California becomes the 1st state to ban natural hair discrimination

Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed, and now it's law!

Video byElisa Tang
July 4, 2019, 10:55 AM

California has become the first state to ban natural hair discrimination.

The state Assembly voted unanimously, 69-0, last month to pass the new bill. On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law.

In April, the state Senate approved the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) to ban discrimination against people with natural hairstyles in the workplace.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell has led the charge on this act, and now it will update the state's SB-188 discrimination law as it relates to hairstyles.

Mitchell posted the news on Twitter and also announced the bill was on its way to California Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk earlier this month.

"Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter black applicants and burden or punish black employees than any other group," the bill states.

Mitchell said in a speech earlier this year said: "A Google image search for 'unprofessional hairstyles' yielded only pictures of Black women with their natural hair or wearing natural braids or twists."

"Although disheartening, not very surprising," she added.

PHOTO: An undated stock photo depicts a young woman with curly hair.
An undated stock photo depicts a young woman with curly hair.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

Prior to California's new law, there have been similar strides made in New York City.

In February, the city created guidance that penalizes discrimination against African Americans based on their natural hairstyles.

"Policies that limit the ability to wear natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people aren’t about ‘neatness’ or ‘professionalism;’ they are about limiting the way Black people move through workplaces, public spaces and other settings," NYC Human Rights Commissioner and Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis said in a statement.

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