Last month everyone here at DAS Equal Employment Opportunity was thrilled when the CROWN Act was signed by Governor Lamont on March 4th, 2021. That put Connecticut as the first state in 2021 and the eighth state to pass and enact the CROWN Act.
The passage serves as a timely reminder that this prevalent form of discrimination warrants a legislative fix, and DAS pledges our commitment to supporting outlawing hair discrimination.
Public Act 21-2 – An Act Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN). The legislation prohibits workplace discrimination based on hairstyles that are commonly associated with people of color, such as wigs, headwraps, individual braids, cornrows, , twists, Bantu knots, afros and afro puffs.
Despite everyone’s natural appearance being unique and beyond their control, the United States imposes a societal expectation that individuals should comply with the Eurocentric perception of beauty, such as long, straight hair. The invention of products such as hair relaxers, chemical treatments, and hot combs are used to strain Afro-textured hair to conform to this ideal. Given this expectation, Black people, especially Black women across the United States are disproportionately subjected to unfair judgment and discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles which are inherent to their race.
- In 2010, Chastity Jones lost her job offer because she refused to cut her locs.
- In 2014, Jessica Sims, a Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class at US Navy in Illinois was honorably discharged after twelve years of service for refusing to cut her locs, which she has had since 2005.
- In 2016, Akua Agyemfra was fired from her job as a server due to wearing her natural hair in a bun.
- In 2018, Brittany Noble was fired from her job as a news anchor because her natural hair was considered unprofessional.
- In 2019, Andrew Johnson was forced to cut his locs or forfeit during a high school wrestling match.
These are only a few of the injustices that have occurred over the past decade. It is instances such as these that spurred the CROWN Coalition, which is an organization founded by Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change and Western Center on Law and Poverty to advance efforts in ending hair discrimination and creating a more equitable and inclusive beauty experience for Black women and girls.
California was the first State to sign The CROWN Act into law on July 3, 2019. Since then, seven other states (New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, Maryland and Connecticut) have followed suit.
It should be noted that while no additional protected class has been added to EEO policies, the bill changes the definition of "race" in our statutes to be inclusive of "ethnic traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles."
While there is still a lot of progress left to be made, we are moving in the right direction. As Governor Lamont had stated in his press release, “Racial discrimination of any kind is unacceptable, and we must strive to eradicate all forms, including those instances which are not overt, for example, when a person of color has a job interview or simply goes to work, they should never be judged based on anything other than skills, work product, commitment, dedication, and work ethic. This measure is critical to helping build a more equitable society.”
To learn more about the CROWN Act, visit: