California Bans Hair Discrimination

For years, numerous people had to alter their hairstyles at work. This disproportionately impacted African Americans, who tend to have natural hair that is curlier or twisted than Caucasian hair. Additionally, African-Americans tend to have hair in twists and braids, as they are more popular in their cultures, which many businesses prohibit. Hair discrimination is now a thing of the past in California, thanks to the passage of the Crown Act.

Governor Gavin Newsome approved the bill in July, and it will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The law states, “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.” The goal of the bill is to foster inclusion at businesses and schools, so no one feels as though they need to alter their hair to conform to Eurocentric standards.

Concerted effort to cut down on workplace discrimination

Discrimination takes many forms. Refusing to hire someone or choosing to fire someone based on race, country of origin, gender or sexual orientation is against the law. Making it illegal for employers to discriminate based on an individual’s hair is merely an extension of that since a person’s hair becomes intrinsically linked to his or her identity. It is unfair for some people to spend an excessive amount of money on chemical treatments to conform to those standards while others get off the hook.

Expansion to other states

California is the first state to implement such a law, but it seems as though other states are not far behind. New York City passed similar legislation earlier this year, and a similar bill went into the New Jersey Legislature recently. Banning racial discrimination in the workplace involves making every place of business comfortable for everyone.

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