Texas workers with natural hairstyles have been keenly aware of a frustrating loophole for years. Race discrimination and harassment are outlawed – but there is no language explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s hair.
A group of state lawmakers has a plan to tackle this problem head-on.
The CROWN Act
Members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus recently announced they are working on a bill known as the CROWN Act. Short for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” the proposal would specifically prohibit discrimination that is based on hairstyles or textures associated with a person’s race. It is part of a national effort to address this prominent issue.
“These conversations are just becoming public now,” said one of the lawmakers behind the proposal. “People in our community were having these conversations around the kitchen table or in beauty salons and barbershops.”
The legislators are readying the CROWN Act for the 2021 legislative session. If it becomes law, Texas would become one of a handful of states with this type of hair-based discrimination language in the books.
Race discrimination in the workplace
Discrimination against an employee or applicant based on a protected attribute, such as race, is illegal at both the state and federal level. Yet this type of behavior remains rampant. Race discrimination claims accounted for about one-third of all charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2019. That’s in line with figures from the previous decade.
How exactly might a new law, such as the CROWN Act, impact these cases? That remains to be seen. However, the inclusion of hair-related language in anti-discrimination statutes should provide some real clarity for workers and applicants affected by this type of behavior.