We Protect Workers

Natural hairstyle discrimination in California workplaces

California has always been at the forefront of implementing laws that promote diversity and inclusion. One such example is the rights of workers in the state to wear natural and protective hairstyles without discrimination. This issue has long been a concern, as many employees have faced workplace biases and prejudices for sporting hairstyles that reflect their cultural, ethnic or racial identity.

The need to address such biases eventually led to the introduction of legislation that aims to protect workers’ rights to maintain natural or protective hairstyles without the fear of retaliation or discrimination. This includes hairstyles such as braids, locks, twists, and others typically associated with a particular racial or ethnic group.

The CROWN Act in California

In 2019, California became the first state to pass the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on hairstyle and hair texture. This groundbreaking law ensures that employees are judged based on their abilities and qualifications rather than their appearance. The CROWN Act expands the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act, encompassing traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and hairstyles. Employers in California can’t enforce grooming or appearance policies that disproportionately affect people of certain racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Implications for employers and employees

This law has significant implications for both employers and employees in California. Employers must carefully review their grooming and appearance policies to ensure they comply with the CROWN Act. They must also train their managers and human resources personnel to be aware of and sensitive to these issues. Employees can now (lawfully) wear their hair in a way that is authentic to their culture without fear of retribution or discrimination. They have legal rights if they face any form of discrimination based on their natural or protective hairstyle.

Anyone who has been subjected to discrimination based on their natural hair or ethnic hairstyle should learn more about their rights. Addressing the situation quickly when it occurs can help to ensure things don’t get out of control. Seeking legal guidance accordingly can be helpful for affected workers.