Category: Race Discrimination

California’s Bill to ban discrimination against natural hair passed the assembly and senate with unanimous votes. On July 3, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsome signed the bill into law. The law bans discrimination against natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks.

The CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) was introduced by Senator Holly Mitchell. This makes California the first state to ban race-based hair discrimination. This law will extend the protections of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), as well as the California Education Code.

At this time, racial and national origin discrimination is limited to things such as your race, ethnic identity, perceived identity, or physical characteristics such as height, weight, color of a person’s skin or hair, or the facial features associated with a particular race. The new law modifies the FEHA’s definition of race to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” This law will take effect on January 1, 2020.

What Was the Motivation Behind the CROWN Act?

The CROWN Coalition, the bill’s sponsor, is a partnership of the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty. This partnership formed to end discrimination and create a more equitable and inclusive beauty experience for black women and girls.

According to the CROWN Coalition, “diversity and inclusion are key in American classrooms and across all industries and sectors, and this legislation will help to drive justice, fairness, education equity, and business success.” CROWN went on further to state that SB 188 “corrects an inconsistency in existing anti-discrimination laws by amending the California Government and Education Codes to protect against discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles, in workplaces and in schools.”

Study Confirms Black Employees Disproportionately Affected By Hair Bias 

Esi Eggleston Bracey, chief operating officer and executive vice-president of beauty and person care at Unilever, revealed that research conducted as a part of the CROWN initiative confirms what many have already experienced; black people are disproportionately affected by bias against their hair and appearance in schools and the workplace.

The Unilever study found that black women were 1.5 times more likely to have reported being sent home from work due to their hair or know of a black woman who had been sent home. The study also found that black women are 80 percent more likely to change their hair to meet social norms or expectations at work. Black women also reported receiving formal grooming policies at a rate significantly higher than white women.

The new law does not stop employers from implementing grooming policies. Employers may want to consult with an attorney to make sure that any policy pertaining to the grooming of hair would not discriminate according to this new law.

Starting on January 1, 2020, you will have a remedy if an employer discriminates against you for wearing your hair in a natural style. To ensure your rights are protected reach out to an experienced employment law attorney.