Racial discrimination can take many forms at work. While some are blatant, most people know that specific comments or actions could land them in severe trouble. Therefore, much racial discrimination takes a more subtle form. It could be due to someone trying to avoid getting in trouble for their actions. Sometimes, it is a case of hidden prejudices coming to the surface.
One form of racial discrimination that has been going on for years is hair discrimination. Employers tell employees they must wear their hair in specific ways or cannot wear their hair in a certain way.
What is the CROWN Act?
California was the first state to make hair discrimination illegal. It did so through the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act which came into force at the beginning of 2020.
The act bans employers from discriminating against people based on hairstyles or hair texture related to race, culture or religion.
For years workers have had to comply with hairstyles based on those natural to a particular portion of the population. Workers who did not meet these standards faced prejudice — some direct, some less so.
There is a reason so many Black women felt compelled to straighten their daughter’s hair for school. There is a reason many Black men felt unable to go to work with an Afro. Hair discrimination became so ingrained in the culture that people adjusted their hair to fit in, or to increase their chances of getting the job.
If your employer tells you to straighten your hair, take out those beads, remove those braids or anything similar, consider why they are doing it. California law is firm on ensuring that people have the right to go to work without feeling discriminated against. Sometimes it is necessary to take legal action to enforce your rights.