Protecting California Workers from Hair Discrimination & Harassment

Hair Discrimination & HarassmentCalifornia is a national leader in forward-thinking anti-discrimination legislation, and was the first U.S. state to ban employers from discriminating against employees or applicants because of their hair texture and “protective” hairstyles like braids, locks, twists, cornrows, and Afros that took effect with the passage of Senate Bill 188 in January 2020.

The CROWN Act — an acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair —was created in 2019 in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair textures.

However, like most laws that prohibit workplace discrimination, not everyone respects or enforces the protections the Act offers.

Despite progress over the past few years, our California employment law attorneys know race-based hair discrimination remains a widespread issue for Black, Hispanic, White, and Multiracial men and women in workplaces across the nation.

Recent studies show company leaders across California must do more to protect their employees from hair discrimination.

A 2023 CROWN Workplace Research Study Found Race-Based Hair Discrimination Remains a Widespread Issue

A 2023 CROWN Workplace Research Study surveyed 2,990 female-identifying respondents within the U.S. in December 2022 and January 2023. Respondents were all part-time or full-time employees between the ages of 25 and 64 who identified as Black, Hispanic, White, or Multiracial/Multiethnic.

The results were:

  • More than half of the Black women surveyed felt like they had to wear their hair straight in a job interview to be successful. Two-thirds reported that they had changed their hair for a job interview.
  • Black women’s hair was two-and-a-half times more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.
  • One-fifth, or 20%, of the Black women surveyed between the ages of 25 and 34 had been sent home from work because of their hair.
  • A quarter of the Black women surveyed believe they were denied a job because of their hair.

Although hair discrimination is not prohibited at a federal level in the U.S., California prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles including braids, twists, and locs.

If you believe you are being discriminated against for your hair’s texture or style, we want to hear your story. Contact our skilled California employment discrimination attorneys today for help.

What are Common Examples of Workplace Hair Discrimination in California?

Like most discrimination examples, instances of employer practices that would generally be unlawful are:

  • Policies that require “clean and tidy hair” but only disciplines employees with braids, twists, or locks.
  • A grooming policy requiring employees to alter the state of their hair to conform with the company’s appearance standards, including having to straighten or relax hair.
  • A company that fires someone because they wear their hair in braids or refuses to promote people with locks.

California employers must also stop and prevent hair-based harassment of employees by supervisors, coworkers, customers, and other third parties, including any repeated inappropriate jokes or offensive language, threats, slurs, and other such acts.

If you believe your employer is discriminating against you in any way or is refusing to stop harassing treatment in the California workplace, contact our experienced Los Angeles County employment law attorneys to discuss your legal rights and options today. 

We will help you navigate the process and protect your rights from the start of your claim, so you can move forward with confidence.

Our employment law firm and bilingual staff offer services in both English and Spanish and are available now to discuss your case during a free consultation by calling 626-396-9900 or contacting us online.

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