Bill to end hair discrimination passes first Assembly policy committee

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SACRAMENTO  – The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance comprised of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change, and Dove, announced today the bill they are sponsoring, Senate Bill 188, The CROWN Act, passed its first policy test in the Assembly.

Introduced by Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, SB 188 aims to “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair” (the CROWN Act) by clarifying that traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and hairstyle, be protected from discrimination in the work place and in our K-12 public and charter schools.

“Many Black employees, including your staff, members, will tell you if given the chance that the struggle to maintain what society has deemed a ‘professional image’ while protecting the health and integrity of their hair remains a defining and paradoxical struggle in their work experience, not usually shared by their non-Black peers,” Mitchell said.  “Members, it is 2019. Any law that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a position, not because of my capabilities or experience but because of my hair, is long overdue for reform.”

The CROWN ct will ensure protection against discrimination in the workplace and schools based on hairstyles by prohibiting employers and schools from enforcing purportedly “race neutral” grooming policies that disproportionately impact persons of color.   Additionally, while anti-discrimination laws presently protect the choice to wear an Afro, Afros are not the only natural presentation of Black hair. SB 188 will ensure protection against discrimination based on hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Education Code.

“As a proud member of the CROWN Coalition, Dove is committed to impacting the lives of all of the people we serve.  We are thrilled to see that the California Senate passed SB 188, and look forward to continuing to drive equity and fairness for all women and men, particularly around hair inclusivity”, said Esi Eggleston Bracey, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever.

The CROWN Act corrects an inconsistency in existing anti-discrimination laws by amending the California Government and Education Codes to protect against discrimination based on traits historically associated with race such as hair texture and protective hairstyles.  The Coalition, in support of The CROWN Act, aims to put an end to the significant injustices of hair discrimination that has spanned decades across the United States.

SB 188 now will undergo review by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. No hearing date has been set.

For more information on SB 188, visit Mitchell’s web site at http://senate.ca.gov/mitchell

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