In 2019, the results of a study conducted by Dove concluded that Black women were disproportionately affected by workplace hairstyling policies and procedures. Survey results revealed that Black women were 50 percent more likely than their non-Black colleagues to be sent home from work because of their hair. Eighty percent of Black women said they felt pressured to alter their hair from its natural state to assimilate to office culture.
In response to these staggering results, California became the first state to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s ethnic hair texture or choice of ethnic hairstyle in July 2019. By passing what is now referred to as “The Crown Act,” California followed the unprecedented lead of New York City, in banning natural hair discrimination against braids, cornrows, Locs, Afros, and twists.
The Crown Act is a piece of legislation that applies to both workplace discrimination and discrimination in public schools. Its purpose is to celebrate ethnic diversity in America within academic and professional spaces. Since its inception, the Crown Act has created a ripple effect with 18 states across the country passing similar laws. Notably, Louisiana’s Crown Act, passed on August 1, amended their definition of “discrimination” to include all discriminatory practices involving a person’s compensation, terms of employment, or benefits of employment.
If passed at the federal level, the Crown Act would likely provide expanded protection under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This House bill would explicitly prohibit employment discrimination based on an individual’s hair texture and style. Until then employers should review their grooming policies to ensure there is no discriminatory language embedded in their employment practices. Employers are encouraged to act as if the Crown Act currently applies to them unless there is a justified safety issue or otherwise reasonable basis not to.
Revolution Law Group is located in Greensboro, NC, and serves individuals and small businesses throughout the Triad and surrounding areas. To contact us please visit Revolution.law or call 336-333-7907.
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