House passes Crown Act banning discrimination against Black hairstyles

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I’ve been following the advancement of The Crown Act, which recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Crown Act ensures “protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 clearly bans racial discrimination in the workplace, appearance-based characteristics like hairstyles have often been held to be “mutable,” or changeable, aspects of self-expression not protected by Title VII. This has allowed personal appearance policies in workplaces to subjectively dictate what a “professional” hairstyle is. If you can be disciplined for noncompliance with a professional appearance policy simply because of the way your hair naturally grows out of your head, there is a problem.

Here in Virginia, the Virginia Values Act bans discrimination on the basis of one’s natural hair, (more info here), but it’s only been around for a few years, so implementing it is still a work in progress. If you are an employer whose policies are in need of an inclusive refresh to support your employees, I’d love to help. If you are an employee who has suffered discrimination, including microaggressions, about your hair and/ or race, please reach out- I want to hear your story and stand up for you.

Shout out to Parlor Salon (@parlorva) for their straight-talk with me about this topic. If you are looking for a local, inclusive, incredible salon “where all humans and textures” are welcome, I highly recommend all of the Mavens there!


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