A bill designed to ban discrimination on the basis of someone’s hairstyle and texture has sailed through the Louisiana Senate but it met its first pushback in the House Labor Committee on Thursday.
The bill is known as the CROWN Act. CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair. The bill follows movements in other cities and state legislatures that aims to fill in the gaps of anti-discrimination laws to protect natural texture and hairstyles.
The bill presented by Congressman-elect Troy Carter, on of his final pieces of state legislation, follows the outline of the bills that have already passed across the country and is law in New Orleans. It would prohibit discriminating against someone because of their natural hair, a style often worn by African-Americans.
Representative Tammy Phelps said historically, these hairstyles have been seen as unprofessional and has in some cases prevented people’s eligibility for work.
“The CROWN Act remedies an inconsistency in anti-discrimination laws by amending codes to protect against discrimination based on traits historically associated with race such as texture and protective hairstyles,” Rep. Phelps said.
A study conducted by Dove revealed Black women were more likely to be policed on their hair in the workplace.
“I would just implore you guys to think about if someone said that the texture of your hair was wrong for a job, the texture of your hair,” Representative C. Denise Marcelle said.
Opponents of the legislation said some jobs have requirements for employee appearance, like hair length. Congressman-elect Carter said the CROWN Act would not change workplace standards, just eliminate the opportunity to be discriminated against.
“I just have to keep bringing it back in because I can see how it can become bigger but this is texture,” Carter said.
During Thursday’s hearing, speakers shared personal stories of women and girls being forced to change their natural hairstyles for work or school. They said it’s a burden to routinely be forced to change their appearance to conform to what society has determined to be an acceptable look.
“You don’t deal with what the race has to deal with,” Representative Kenny R. Cox said. “I don’t have to do my hair but my mom does and other members of my family.”
Supporters of the bill emphasize that how African-Americans, or any race, wear their hair is part of a culture to be celebrated and shouldn’t be grounds for discrimination.
The bill was voted 7-4 out of committee and will head to the House floor. If the bill is passed there the law will take effect on August 1.