- The California State Assembly unanimously passed a bill banning discrimination against natural hair in the workplace.
- The CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act updates the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws to include the protection of natural hair styles.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the act into law on Wednesday.
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Wednesday banning discrimination against natural hair in the workplace, making California the first US state to pass legislation of this kind.
The bill, dubbed the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, was passed unanimously by the California state assembly, 69-0, according to Good Morning America.
California State Sen. Holly Mitchell led the charge on the SB-188, updating the state’s existing anti-discrimination laws to include the protection of “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, and would define protective hairstyles for purposes of these provisions.”
— Holly J. Mitchell (@HollyJMitchell) February 24, 2019
“Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter black applicants and burden or punish black employees than any other group,” as stated in the bill.
The bill legally protects “people in workplaces and K-12 public schools by prohibiting the enforcement of grooming policies that disproportionately affect people of colour, particularly black people,” Los Angeles Times reported.
California's strength is in its diversity. No one should be discriminated against at work or school for their natural hair or hair styles. I'm proud to have authored the C.R.O.W.N. Act and to share that today it has become the first anti-discrimination law of its kind in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/fOZjHWZYKp
— Holly J. Mitchell (@HollyJMitchell) July 3, 2019
Mitchell gave a speech to other members of the California State Senate earlier this year, explaining that the legislation is intended to debunk “common-held myths about what constitutes professionalism in the workplace.”
“A Google image search for ‘unprofessional hairstyles’ yielded only pictures of black women with their natural hair or wearing natural braids or twists,” she said in her speech.
The bill addressed this issue by stating, “Despite the great strides American society and laws have made to reverse the racist ideology that Black traits are inferior, hair remains a rampant source of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences, especially for black individuals.”
Similarly, New York City made hair discrimination illegal in school, at work, and in public places.
“I believe that any law, policy or practice that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a profession – not because of my capacity or my capabilities or my experience but because of my hairstyle choice – is long overdue for reform,” Mitchell, who said she wears her hair naturally, told CNN.