California Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed the CROWN Act into law, which will bar employers and K-12 public schools from discriminating against people for their natural hair once it goes into effect. Passed to prevent instances of racial discrimination that targets the black community in the workplace and in public schools, the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
State Senator Holly Mitchell wrote the bill (SB 188), which passed both chambers unanimously. Senator Mitchell, a black lawmaker who represents California’s 30th Senate District, passed the bill to dispute what constitutes professionalism and to dispel racist myths about black hair. Governor Newsom also weighed in on the bill’s importance, saying that the need for the bill is highlighted by the recent outrage over a black New Jersey high school student who was told to cut his hair or forfeit a wrestling competition.
Once the law goes into effect on January 1, it will prohibit public K-12 schools and workplaces from banning dreadlocks/locs, afros, braids, twists, cornrows and other hairstyles that target black Californians with racism.
California is the first state to enact a law like the CROWN Act, but some cities have similar rules on the books. New York City says its current legal framework already makes hairstyle racial discrimination illegal. The CROWN Act extends existing protections under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Education Code. Both laws have an extensive legal framework that offers legal protection against multiple types of discrimination, including racial discrimination.
Understanding Racial Workplace Discrimination and Your Rights
Under FEHA, employers cannot discriminate against workers on the basis of their race (and other characteristics). FEHA covers California businesses with five or more employees. You have a legal right in our state to report instances of workplace racial discrimination. If you face blowback from your employer for reporting workplace racism or if you are currently experiencing discrimination, then you have legal options.
You also have rights under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but California employment laws offer more protection for workers. This federal law applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
You could pursue a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. In addition, you may be able to file a lawsuit against your employer (or former employer) for discrimination or wrongful termination. Arbitration is another possible outcome. You should strongly consider speaking to an attorney before beginning the claims process.
Contact Our Walnut Creek Discrimination Attorney for Help
Our Walnut Creek discrimination attorney can help you determine which legal options may be available for your situation. Attorney Christopher Baudino is a Walnut Creek attorney who takes employment law cases for victims of discrimination in the Bay Area and surrounding communities.
For a free consultation with us, call (510) 600-3918 or use our online case review form. We can help you determine which options are available for holding your employer or former employer accountable for discrimination.