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The CROWN Act

Updated: Jan 13





The laws protecting individuals who choose to wear natural hairstyles in workplaces and at sporting events are primarily encompassed under the CROWN Act and similar legislation. The CROWN Act, which stands for "Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair," is designed to prevent discrimination based on natural hairstyles typically associated with race, such as braids, locks, twists, tight curls, cornrows, Afros, or head wraps.

As of recent times, more than a dozen states have passed their own versions of the CROWN Act, and several other states are considering similar legislation. California was the first state to pass the CROWN Act in July 2019, amending the definition of race in their Fair Employment and Housing Act to include hair texture and protective hairstyles. Other states that have passed CROWN Acts include New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, and Maryland. These laws aim to ensure that workplace dress and grooming policies do not have a disparate impact on African American applicants or employees, targeting policies that may show racial bias by prohibiting hairstyles historically associated with race.

The federal version of the CROWN Act was introduced in Congress in December 2019, aiming to expand the legal definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and style. However, as of the latest updates, this federal act has not yet become law.

Employers are advised to review their company dress, grooming, and hygiene policies to ensure compliance with these acts. This is particularly important as surveys have indicated that Black women are more likely to be made aware of corporate grooming policies and are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair.

These laws and movements highlight the ongoing efforts to tackle race and national origin discrimination in various societal sectors, including the workplace and educational institutions.


Biology Meets Culture:

Human hair, in its diverse forms, is a testament to our genetic and cultural richness. The unique characteristics of African hair, including its curl pattern and texture, are more than just biological traits; they embody a rich cultural narrative. Understanding this from a trichological perspective highlights the importance of embracing natural hair diversity.

Societal Reflections:

Societal norms have often marginalized natural African hairstyles. This has profound psychological implications, as confirmed by studies showing that Black women face pressure to conform to a mainstream, often Eurocentric, beauty standard. This standard typically excludes natural hairstyles like afros, braids, or locs.

Legal Protection through the CROWN Act:

In response, the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) and similar laws have been enacted in several states to legally protect individuals who wear natural hairstyles. The states that have embraced this legal change include:

- California

- New York

- New Jersey

- Virginia

- Colorado

- Washington

- Maryland

- Connecticut

- Delaware

- Nebraska

- Nevada

- New Mexico

- Illinois

- Oregon

- Tennessee

- Kentucky

These laws redefine racial discrimination to include hair texture and style, thereby addressing societal biases.

Psychology of Perception and Bias:

Psychological research shows that certain hairstyles can unconsciously influence perception and bias, particularly in workplaces. The CROWN Act aims to reshape these perceptions by legally recognizing the cultural and racial significance of hairstyles.

Impact on Organizational Culture:

From an organizational psychology standpoint, accepting natural hairstyles enhances workplace diversity and inclusion, fostering a more inclusive and respectful environment that values cultural and racial diversity.

Forward Thinking:

The journey towards inclusivity and diversity is ongoing. Embracing the complexity of human biology, cultural identity, and societal norms is crucial. Laws like the CROWN Act represent significant steps toward this goal, promoting a deeper understanding and respect for diversity in its many forms.

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For the latest information and in-depth discussions, the sources I referenced earlier - The Employer Defense Report [[❞]](https://employerdefensereport.com/2022/03/31/natural-hairstyles-in-the-workplace-the-crown-act/), Foley & Lardner LLP [[❞]](https://www.foley.com/insights/publications/2020/07/crown-acts-discrimination-natural-hairstyles/), and BLR [[❞]](https://blr.com/resources/fighting-race-based-hair-discrimination-crown-act-laws/) - remain invaluable resources.

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