California is now the first to pass the Natural hair (CROWN) Act, after Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill on Wednesday.
To some, understanding the impact that this will have on many African American and even some, Hispanic American men and women is difficult. Americans of European descent as a whole, do not spend hours straightening their hair, only to have it curl back up in the rain. Senate Bill 188, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell will address unfair grooming policies that have a disparate impact on women and people of color. “In California, we celebrate the contributions of everyone – no matter where they are from, who they love, what language they speak, and, thanks to Senator Mitchell, no matter how they wear their hair,” said Governor Newsom.
Senator Mitchell said that the bill was inspired by inclusion, pride, and choice. “This law protects the right of Black Californians to choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to conform to Eurocentric norms,”Senator Mitchell said. “I am so excited to see the culture change that will ensue from the law.” The law will amend the Fair Employment, the Housing Act, and the Education Code to prohibit employers and schools from enforcing purportedly “race-neutral” grooming policies that disproportionately impact persons of color.
Under this bill, employers would still be able to make and enforce certain policies, so long as they are valid and non-discriminatory, and have no disparate impact; for example, employers can still require employees to secure their hair for safety or hygienic reasons.
Similar legislation has been proposed in New York and New Jersey, with New York City banning hair discrimination in February.
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