Beginning in 2019, a group of Pennsylvania lawmakers took action to end hair discrimination that causes problems for some state workers. The legislation, known as The Crown Act, ensures that people who wear their hair in afros, braids or any other manner will not suffer discrimination based on this choice.

The Crown Act

The first draft of the Crown Act happened in 2019 under the direction of the Crown Coalition. The proposed employment law seeks to extend the protections workers enjoy against racial discrimination by applying these protections to “race-based” hairstyles. The act received the approval of the Pennsylvania Congress and is now awaiting a vote from the Senate.

Hair discrimination in the workplace

Statistics show that Black women are more than one and a half times more likely to leave work at the request of a superior because of their hairstyles. Black women are also 80% likely to agree with the statement that they must alter their hair from its natural state to fit in better in the workplace.

One prominent hair discrimination case involves an Alabama woman who lost out on a new job as a customer service representative in 2010 because she would not cut off her dreadlocks. Eight years later, a high school wrestler living in New Jersey had to cut his dreadlocks off on the spot to compete in a tournament. Advocates say that these incidents stand as two examples of the discrimination based on hairstyles that have plagued Black employees in the workplace for decades.

Response from Pennsylvania lawmakers

Several Pennsylvania representatives have spoken publicly about hair discrimination in the workplace. These lawmakers are adamant that work opportunities should not become limited because workers choose hairstyles natural to their ethnic heritage. A Philadelphia city council member introduced a bill that makes discrimination against natural hairstyles illegal.

Workplace discrimination can damage the career of an employee in both the short and long term. Employees who face discrimination in the workplace may have a better chance of finding relief for the wrongs committed against them by speaking with an attorney.