California is First State to Pass Bill Banning Employers from Discriminating Against People’s Natural Hairstyles

Rearview studio shot of a young woman with curly hair / Getty

California is leading the way for a more inclusive workplace.

On Thursday, California’s state assembly unanimously voted to pass the Crown Act, a bill which would prohibit employers from discriminating against people with natural hair textures and hairstyles.

The bill will now be passed along to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will sign the legislation into law, marking the first-ever ban of natural hair discrimination on the state level.

The Crown Act, which was introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell, will update California’s anti-discrimination laws, making sure the definition of “race” includes “traits historically associated with race,” according to CNN.

“Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on Black individuals,” the bill’s text says according to NBC News.

Detailing the impact of this discrimination, the bill points out that “these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group.”

Sen. Mitchell hopes the bill will also encourage schools and businesses alike to help foster inclusivity and diversity — and put an end to misconceptions about what hairstyles can be considered professional.

“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 told CNN. “I have heard far too many reports of black children humiliated and sent home from school because their natural hair was deemed unruly or a distraction to others.”

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SOURCE: PEOPLE, Maria Pasquini