California's CROWN Act

By Corey Hanrahan

The acronym CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair. And that is exactly what California has done. Existing California law (as it relates to employment law) prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics articulated in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (codified in California Government Code section 12940). 

“…Senate Bill No. 188 […] modifies the definition of ‘race’ to include traits historically associated with race (including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles)

Senate Bill No. 188, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsome on July 3, 2019 modifies the definition of “race” to include traits historically associated with race (including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles). The “protective hairstyles” includes hairstyles like braids, locks and twists. 

Senate Bill No. 188 was proposed due to the California legislature’s finding that the nation’s history is “riddled with laws and societal norms that equated ‘blackness,’ […] to a badge of inferiority, sometimes subject to separate and unequal treatment.”  With the passing of Senate Bill No. 188, modifying Government Code section 12926, California now becomes the first state to afford state-wide protections to traits historically associated with race, including hair textures and protective hairstyles.