California hairstyle discrimination. The state of California has just banned hairstyle discrimination in the workplace, with a law that allows residents (mostly black) to wear their hair however they want.
Californians will no longer be denied work because of their hair. The Golden State became, Wednesday, July 3, the first US state to ban “discrimination based on hair” with a law that prevents organizations from refusing people for wearing the Afro cut, braids or dreadlocks at school or at the workplace.
New York City passed a legislation at the beginning of the year similar to the California hairstyle discrimination law.
Written and carried by Sate Democratic Senator Holly Mitchell, the California Crown Act as it is officially called was passed unanimously by both California chambers and is scheduled to come into force on January 1.
“[ This law protects black Californians who choose to wear their hair in its natural form, without pressure to comply with Eurocentric norms,” the senator says. “I’m excited to see the cultural change guaranteed by this law. For us, it’s a symbol of who we are. When I was doing dreadlocks fifteen years ago, I knew it was a social and political statement addressed to the outside world,” she add.
According to the text, hair “remains a widespread cause of racial discrimination with serious economic and health consequences, especially for black individuals”. They can no longer be used to refuse employment, housing, etc., like it is the case with gender, religion or ethnicity. Employers will still be able to enforce certain safety and health regulations, such as wearing a safety net on the hair, as long as they are not discriminatory and apply to everyone, the Governor Newsom says in a statement.
The California Crown Act is sponsored by a national alliance compromised of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color of Change, and Dove. The bill would also extend protections in the Fair Employment and Housing Act and the California Education Code.
“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 when she first introduced the bill in April. “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.”
Sociologist Chelsea Johnson, who completed her Ph.D. in sociology with a graduate certificate in gender studies from USC, believes that bill SB-188 is a “much needed first step toward protecting women of color’s rights to wear their hair in its natural state and according to common cultural traditions across the African diaspora.”
California governor Gavin Newsom, on the basis of the law, recalled a high school student who was forced by a referee to cut his dreadlocks in New Jersey last December if he wanted to take part in a wrestling competition or being declared forfeit.
According to the Huffington Post, the New Jersey High School wrestling and athletic tournament rules state that wrestlers must have a short hairstyle. However, he or she can fight with a wrestling helmet that completely covers the long hair. An alternative that does not seem to have been left to the young wrestler.
The teenager had the choice between “losing a sporting competition and losing his identity,” said Newsom. “It’s happening in the workplace, in schools, not just at sports competitions, every day across America, in veiled or flagrant ways. “