The CROWN Act, a measure led by State Senator Mattie Hunter to end hair discrimination in the workplace, was passed by the Senate on Feb. 16.
Also known as Senate Bill 3616, the “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair” Act or CROWN Act amends the Illinois Human Rights Act so it includes traits historically associated with race such as but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles, including braids, locks and twists.
“No one should have to miss out on a job opportunity or miss a school graduation because of the hair that grows naturally out of their head,” Hunter said. “It’s 2022. As a nation, we should be past this petty discrimination.”
“Black people should have the right to be expressive and creative with their hair and not worry about being ‘unprofessional’ or violating a conduct policy because of it,” the Senator added. “If it is wrong to judge by the color of one’s skin, isn’t it also wrong to judge by the way one styles their hair?”
The CROWN Coalition, the forces behind the bill, are Dove, the National Urban League, the Western Center on Law and Poverty and Color of Change.
As written in a press release shared by Hunter’s office, a recent study by Dove uncovered that 80% of African American women felt they needed to switch their hairstyle to align with more conservative workplace standards in order to fit in. The study also highlighted that there’s a bias against Black women with natural hairstyles in job recruitment, and that Black women with natural hairstyles were perceived to be less professional, less competent and less likely to be recommended for a job interview than Black women with straightened hairstyles and white women with either curly or straight hairstyles.
Black women with natural hairstyles additionally received more negative evaluations when they applied for a job in an industry with strong dress norms.
Unfortunately, hair discrimination doesn’t only occur in the workplace — it happens in schools across the country too.
As MADAMENOIRE reported last August, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Jett Hawkins Act in response to a four-year-old boy in Chicago who was told his braids violated his private school’s dress code. The law officially went into effect on Jan. 1.
Now, The CROWN Act awaits further consideration from the House.