For several years, Florida lawmakers have considered a bill known as the CROWN Act. It stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.
Earlier this year, it failed for the third time, but proponents of it are far from done and have vowed to try again next year.
As an employer, you have two options
Ignore it until, if one day it passes, you are forced to accept it. Or look at why it is so important to people and try to avoid doing anything your employees would consider contrary to it.
What does hair have to do with discrimination?
You probably know the problems you can end up in if an employee accuses you of discriminating against them. Most employees only bring discrimination claims because they genuinely feel upset. As a happy workforce tends to perform better, it is in your interests to do what you can to avoid anyone feeling discriminated against.
If you have an employee dress code, check it. If you have nothing written down, think if there are certain expectations about how hair should be in your workplace. Has a manager ever told someone to wear their hair in a certain way or not to wear it in a particular way?
The main focus of the CROWN Act is Black people’s hair, which is naturally curly. Many Black employees are fed up with having to straighten their hair or with not being able to wear their natural hairstyles such as braids or afros. That’s why several states have passed CROWN Acts. It can also protect others whose hair is different or worn differently for cultural or religious reasons, such as Hassidic Jews.
Ensuring your company does not unconsciously discriminate against employees can be tricky. Consider legal help to guide you.