'CROWN Act' Bans Hair Discrimination Feb 7, 2020 2:14:25 GMT -5
Post by JoannaB on Feb 7, 2020 2:14:25 GMT -5
'CROWN Act' Bans Hair Discrimination
The Montgomery County Council in Maryland unanimously voted to pass the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act which prohibits employment, housing and other public service discrimination based on certain hairstyles and textures, like braids, locks, Afros, curls and twists. The county is the first in the nation to establish such a law at a local level. California, New York and New Jersey have passed statewide legislation that offering similar hairstyle protection.
“[The law] will expand the definition of race to include natural hairstyles, like Afros, twists, Bantu knots and protective hair styles like braids, that people of African descent wear,” said Will Jawando, one of the council members who wrote the original bill. The Act follows prior anti-discrimination laws of its kind taking effect throughout the country as more African Americans and persons of African descent choose to wear their hair in its natural state.
In July 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed the nation’s first measure safeguarding California residents against hairstyle discrimination. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a similar bill into law last summer, followed by New Jersey in December. Oregon, Colorado and Washington are considering their own bills to ban such discrimination.
In other actions taken locally, the school board in Palm Beach County, Florida, voted Wednesday to allow students to wear their chosen hairstyles to school. In Cincinnati, Ohio, a law was passed banning hair discrimination, and the city of Baltimore is also considering legislation.
According to the CROWN Coalition, a sponsor of California’s CROWN Act, black women are 80% more likely to change their hair to meet workplace expectations and 50% more likely to be sent home, or know someone who was sent home from the workplace because of her hair.
Cases of discrimination based on public appearance have grabbed national attention recently. Last month, a Texas student was reportedly banned from school because of his decision to wear dreadlocks. Also, a California student was suspended last month for refusing to cut his hair.
A Muslim woman in Georgia recently reached a settlement with her former employer after she claimed she was discriminated against for wearing a hijab, a traditional Muslim head-covering, to work. A Michigan restaurant chain is facing a lawsuit for similar reasons.
Jawando said he is “very proud to have led this effort to protect county residents from natural hair discrimination” in a tweet posted Thursday. “We have over 200,000 black and Latina women in Montgomery County, many of whom get up every day and make decisions about how they are going to present themselves to the world,” he told WTOP News.
Under the CROWN Act, individuals are allowed to seek a civil penalty up to $5,000 through the Office of Human Rights.
Source: Chelsey Cox, USA Today, February 7, 2020.