Senator Holly Mitchell and the CROWN Act featured at Essence 2019

Senator Holly Mitchell and the CROWN Act featured at Essence 2019

CrownIn an historic move, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that prohibits discrimination against natural hair in the workplace and in schools.

Senate Bill 188 by Senator Holly J. Mitchell, also known as The CROWN Act, aims to Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair.

While anti-discrimination laws presently protect an individual’s choice to wear an afro, the courts have historically ruled that these laws do not protect these same individuals the moment they choose to braid, lock, or twist their natural hair. Because afros are not the only presentation of natural hair for African descendants, The CROWN Act corrects this inconsistency in existing law by amending the California Government and Education Codes to protect against discrimination based on traits historically associated with race such as hair texture and protective hairstyles. 

The CROWN Act will ensure protection for Black employees and students in workplaces and schools by prohibiting employers and school administrators from enforcing purportedly “race neutral” grooming policies that disparately impact Black individuals. SB 188 will not only protect Black Californians from being forced to conform to a non-inclusive, Eurocentric interpretation of “professionalism,” the law will also protect their personal right to choose how they wear their hair

“It is 2019,” says Senator Mitchell. “Any law that sanctions a job description that immediately excludes me from a position, not because of my capabilities or experience but because of the way I choose to wear my hair, is long overdue for reform.”

This bill is the first of its kind in the country signed into law and has held the attention of the nation from introduction to signing and has catalyzed similar efforts in other states.  New York and New Jersey have introduced similar legislation since the introduction of The CROWN Act.

SB 188 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Sen. Mitchell is chair of the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee. A member of the Legislature since 2010, Mitchell represents nearly 1 million residents of Senate District 30, which includes Culver City and much of Los Angeles. More at www.senate.ca.gov/MITCHELL