California To Become First State To Protect Black Women’s Hairstyles

In the United States of America, the way you wear your hair to work can be a source of anxiety and sometimes even trauma for many Black women. There is a very real and tangible pressure to wear your hair straight, which is often deemed “presentable” in the workplace.

Many women (and men) have been discriminated against because of the style of their hair.

Whether it’s navigating how to wear your hair for an interview or changing your hair into box braids for whatever reason, natural hair in the workplace has become unnecessarily stressful. But California has moved to help you deal with that.

California lawmakers have passed The CROWN Act, a bill to protect Black employees and students by outlawing discrimination against people with natural hairstyles like afros, dreadlocks, braids, and twists.

The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair (CROWN) legislation will ensure protection against discrimination in the workplace based on hairstyles by prohibiting employers from enforcing purportedly “race-neutral” grooming policies that disproportionately impact persons of color. The Crown Act would make it illegal for employers to enforce policies surrounding discriminate against people wearing natural or protective styles — like braids, dreadlocks, and twists. To date, there is no legal precedent in state or federal court to protect individuals against hair discrimination.

Supporters of the crown act say it will help protect cultural identity.

California is following right behind cities like New York City who also recently passed their own legislation which made hair discrimination illegal (California is still the first entire state to adopt this kind of law). Those found in violation of the law can face a penalty of up to $250,000, with no cap on damages, and would be subject to re-hiring those fired if it was proven that discrimination was involved.

One of the main supporters is The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance comprised of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and Dove. The coalition is proud to announce that it is sponsoring the CROWN Act.

The bill states, “The history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equated ‘blackness’ and the…