Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow? No More, Says New California Law

Workplace discrimination based on hairstyle is now prohibited under a new California state law just signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom signed the bill earlier this week to legally protects people in workplaces and K-12 public schools from discrimination based on their natural hair. The new law takes effect Jan. 1 and prohibits grooming policies that ban certain styles, including Afros, braids, twists, cornrows and dreadlocks.

The new law came into focus in December when a referee forced a black wrestler from a New Jersey high school to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit his match.

“That is played out in workplaces, it’s played out in schools — not just in athletic competitions and settings — every single day all across America, in ways that are subtle, in ways overt,” Newsom said  at the Capitol in Sacramento.

The so-called CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace For Natural Hair) passed unanimously in the California Assembly and Senate. It joins other laws that protect against discrimination, including those aimed at race, sex, religion, color, national origin, disability and sexual orientation.

The bill’s author was Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles). “For us, it is a symbol of who we are. I know when I locked 15 years ago, I knew it was both a social and political statement to the outside world,” Mitchell said.

New York passed a similar law in February, banning natural hair discrimination. New Jersey is considering a similar bill.


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