California is now the first state in the nation to ban employers and school officials from discriminating against people based on their natural hairstyle. Governor Gavin Newsom signed the new law, which was first introduced in California by Senator Holly Mitchell.
Senate Bill 188, also known as the CROWN Act: Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair, makes it illegal to enforce dress code or grooming policies against hairstyles such as Afros, braids, twists, and locks. SB 188 updates the state’s anti-discrimination law so the definition of race also includes “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”
Ultimately, this new law protects the right of individuals to choose to wear their hair in its natural form in the workplace or school. According to the author, “These protections will help mitigate the unfair scrutiny and significant injustices black people face because of their hair.”
California’s new law will take effect on January 1, 2020. Employers will still be able to make and enforce certain grooming policies so long as they are non-discriminatory and have no disparate impact on any protected class.