On July 3, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 188 — also known as the CROWN Act — and made California the first state in the country to outlaw discrimination based on “natural hair,” including afros, braids, twists, and locks.
CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair.
According to SB 188’s author, state Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-LA), the new law is designed to ensure protection against discrimination in the workplace and schools by “prohibiting employers and schools from enforcing purportedly ‘race-neutral’ grooming policies that disproportionately impact persons of color.” The new law takes effect on January 1, 2020.
While California will be the first state in the nation to protect employees from racial discrimination based on hairstyle, similar legislation has been proposed in New York and New Jersey. New York City banned hair discrimination in February.
Nothing in the CROWN Act prevents a California employer from adopting and/or enforcing legitimate, non-discriminatory dress and grooming policies required for safety or hygienic reasons. In addition, nothing in the CROWN Act prevents a California employer from adopting and/or enforcing any other dress or grooming policy, so long as that policy does not have a “disparate impact” on people of color.
You can read the full text of the new law here.