Texas talent with locs, box braids and ‘fros can rejoice: over Memorial Day weekend, Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, signed the CROWN Act into law. The legislation prohibits hair-related racial discrimination at work — as well as in schools and housing — in the state of Texas. The law goes into effect Sept. 1, 2023.
The CROWN Act first became law in California in July 2019. The states of Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington followed suit. Some municipalities, like Miami Beach, Florida, and Philadelphia have passed their own related discrimination protections.
Previously, legal definitions of race included skin color but excluded hair texture and protective hairstyles — such as braids, locs and twists — “closely associated with race,” according to law firm Littler Mendelson. The CROWN Act addresses that.
Detangling the effects of hair bias
Even as CROWN legislation nationwide gathers momentum, data from LinkedIn and Dove suggests that 66% of Black women in the U.S. change their hair for job interviews. About 40% straighten their hair, more specifically. One in 4 Black women reported that they did not secure a job because of their hair; on the job, Black women are twice as likely to face harassment and discrimination based on coily and textured hair, LinkedIn and Dove reported.
What does this mean for employers? An attorney previously told HR Dive that employers should comb their workplace policies for potentially discriminatory language. Even if, for example, a policy bars people of all races from having dreadlocks, a worker can prove that the workplace rule disproportionately affects Black employees — thereby proving that their employer is violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.