There may now be more laws protecting people from discrimination based on protected characteristics including their race, color and national origin than ever. Nonetheless, people still get mistreated in life and at work.
Although more obvious and overt forms of racial discrimination have long been illegal, more subtle forms are still common in many places. Employers have long found excuses to terminate workers or to refuse them advancement opportunities based on factors stemming from their race, like their appearance.
California has helped lead the way to a more just workplace by instituting a law against hair discrimination for those with natural hairstyles. It’s called the Crown Act.
Employers often have rules about appearance that don’t reflect reality
Having rules about dress, hairstyles and appearance can give companies the authority to control how their employees appear in the workplace or when they’re representing the business. Many businesses demand professional hairstyles from their workers and define professional using European beauty standards.
They expect all of their workers’ hair to be straight and flat, as well as neatly groomed. Unfortunately, such policies put an unfair burden on those with naturally curly and wavy hair. People from many backgrounds, including African Americans, can find themselves spending hundreds of dollars every month to straighten or otherwise manage their hair just to meet arbitrary rules about appearance.
By requiring that companies allow natural hair, California helps prevent discrimination based on a natural feature that workers can’t control. Those who face hair discrimination or other forms of racial discrimination in the workplace need to know their rights so that they can stand up for them.