Bill introduced to allow natural black hairstyles in workplace

Whether we choose to admit it or not, black people, in particular, black women, are discriminated against in the workplace due to their natural hairstyles. Unfortunately, society has dictated unnatural styles to be "professional," whereas natural locks boasting tight curls, cornrows, braids, or locks are frowned upon.

To date, the only defined discriminatory act by an employer has been forbidding an Afro style altogether. Employers have been allowed to force black workers to conform to grooming standards, as long as they were race-neutral. This means that the same standards apply for both Caucasian and African Americans, regardless of the amount of money, time, or even the ability of the natural hair of a black person to conform. Black women may easily spend hundreds of dollars and many hours forcing their natural hair into straight styles acceptable as "professional" in their career fields.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) has introduced a new bill, Senate Bill 188, to address these issues. The bill is named the CROWN Act. It stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair." Its purpose is to amend state laws that currently allow forms of discrimination in order to include their protections of natural hairstyles historically associated with a certain race. This includes braids, locks, and twists. Employers would no longer be able to use general grooming policies to disallow natural hairstyles.

If you have been the target of discrimination due to a natural hair style or any other historically race associated trait, it may not be a bad idea to consider exploring your legal options.

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