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New California Bill Would Prohibit Discrimination Based on Natural Hairstyles

New California Bill Would Prohibit Discrimination Based on Natural Hairstyles

The CROWN Act has already passed the California Senate

New California Bill Would Prohibit Discrimination Based on Natural Hairstyles

For many men and women of color, natural hair is both a source of pride — and a potential source of discrimination. Across the United States, including here in California, dress codes instituted at work places and schools required employees and students of color to change their natural hair. If a new bill becomes law, those discriminatory practices may become a thing of the past.

The Crown Act — which stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair — would add hair textures and styles that are associated with race to California’s anti-discrimination laws. According to a California employment discrimination attorney, the bill was introduced by Senator Holly J. Mitchell, a Democrat from Los Angeles. It has already passed the California Senate, and will be considered by the House next. If it is approved by the House, it will go to Governor Newsom for his signature.

Senator Mitchell stated that the reason for the bill is clear: “There are still far too many cases of black employees and applicants denied employment or promotion — even terminated — because of the way they choose to wear their hair.” She added that this type of discrimination also affects children in California schools, saying that she has received reports of black children who were humiliated and sent home from school because administrators decided that their natural hair was unruly or a distraction to other students.

While there is not currently a law in California that prevents employers from discriminating against employees based on their natural hair, if an employer refuses to hire or promote a person based on their hair — or otherwise takes an adverse employment action against them — it could be included as part of an overall racial discrimination lawsuit. Discrimination against certain employees for the way that their hair naturally grows may be just part of a pattern of treating employees of color differently. For example, if an employee who wears an afro or braids is told that he or she has to change their hair or else get fired or demoted, that may not be enough on its own for a legal claim under current law. However, as a California employment discrimination attorney can explain, if an employer has also engaged in other acts — such as using racial slurs — it may demonstrate that a policy of forbidding employees from wearing their natural hair is discriminatory.

The Crown Act represents a substantial step towards making workplaces and schools more equitable for all Californians. If it becomes law, employees and students alike will have greater protection from race-based discrimination in California.

If you have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace, PLBSH can help. With more than 40 years of experience, we understand the law and how to get results. Contact our firm today at (800) 435-7542 or to schedule a consultation with a seasoned California employment discrimination attorney.

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