BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Among the many laws that went into effect at the start of this year, Senate Bill 188 also referred to as the Crown Act went into effect on January first. California is the first state to introduce a bill that ensures the protection against discrimination based on hairstyles.
The law aims to create a respectful and open workplace for natural hair.
The protections extend to schools and the workplace.
"This is a great opportunity for women to be themselves and to be comfortable and not feel like they have to have straight hair to be accepted in the workplace. That they could wear their natural hair and not be discriminated by anyone," Shirelle Perez, a customer of Turnin Headz Hair and Nail Studio said.
According to The CROWN Research Study released by Dove, 80% of black women agree with this statement; 'I have to change my hair from its natural state to fit in at the office'.
Another finding of the study reports that black women's hair is 3.4x more likely to be perceived as unprofessional.
Renee Roberson, also a customer of Turnin Headz Hair and Nail Studio said she has not faced discrimination based on her hair, but her daughter has.
"People should be able to wear their hair, how they pleased without others questioning their judgment. Who's to say what's best for anybody?" Roberson said.
The bill outlines protections for hairstyles such as afros and explains that afros are not the only natural presentation of black hair. Styles such as braids, twists and locks are natural hairstyles.
"I'm qualified, I've been to college. It shouldn't be off of our hair or any style. It should just be off if I could do the job correctly," Micca Williams, the owner of Turnin Headz Hair and Nail Studio said. "There's a law saying that you can't do this to me where young people, they may not feel like they have the power to speak up now they have this law backing them."
Other states have implemented the Crown Act such as New York and New Jersey, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio and Montgomery County, Maryland.