Michigan legislature introduces anti-hair discrimination bill

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 8:59 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Crown Act is a law specifically created to prohibit discrimination against hair texture and hairstyle choices. Michigan has introduced the bill, but the law has not been enacted yet.

In July 2019, the first Crown Act bill was drafted and passed in the state of California. So far, the law has passed in seven states or cities: California, Colorado, Cincinnati, New York, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington.

Last year, State Rep. Sarah Anthony introduced the bill. The bill was then sent to the state legislature’s House Government Operations committee.

Michigan politicians such as Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence and State Rep. Sarah Anthony are further leading the charge to ensure this law becomes reality for the sake of protecting Michigan employees against all forms of hair discrimination within employment, housing and public service sectors.

Though the act was created with women of color in mind, Lawrence believes the act is not pointed towards one specific group of people.

In fact, the bill would amend the 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act — an act passed to ban discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on race, sex, religion, age and a host of other factors — and also include banned discrimination based on hair texture and protective hairstyles.

Lawrence’s experiences as a Black woman who has worked in corporate spaces and public office helps her to relate to others who may have dealt with being stereotyped due to their hair.

“We celebrate the fact we can wear our hair in different styles,” Lawrence said. “Oftentimes, because our hair is unique, other people look at it differently.”

The Crown Act would be a major step in ensuring there are legal protections in the event that an employer fires an employee or refuses to hire them based on their hair texture, hair color and or hairstyle preference.

For Lawrence, the law is “an education moment....and a movement in America-especially with the heightened sensitivity to racial and social issues.”

Crown Day is officially July 3. For more information and or updates about the Crown Act, click here.

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