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California ends discrimination against natural hair

Braids, dreadlocks, Bantu knots, twists, fades and Afros have long been associated with men and women of color -- and generally discouraged in many workplaces (if not outright banned).

For decades, professional men and women of color have had to subject their hair to harsh chemical straighteners and relaxers or invest in wigs in order to conform to white notions of what "acceptable" or "professional" hair looks like.

Well, after years of pushback and a growing acceptance of the idea that beauty and professionalism can look very different between people -- the California Senate has officially put an end to racially based hair discrimination in the workplace.

The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act bans employers from discriminating against their employees because of hairstyles. California isn't the first place to take such action. New York City, for example, recently did the same thing -- only the city expanded its law to protect everyone in public places, including school children who have faced hair discrimination in the past.

Senate Bill 188 (the Crown Act's official number) was proposed by Los Angeles Senator Holly J. Mitchell. After speaking briefly about the discrimination faced by people of color in the workplace over their hair, the senator went on to lead the vote. The bill passed unanimously.

There's been an overwhelmingly positive response to the bill's passage on social media. We can only hope that employers also embrace the inclusiveness of the bill as wholeheartedly as the Senate.

If you believe that you have been the victim of racial discrimination in the workplace due to your hairstyle or any other reason, you don't have to accept such treatment. An attorney can help you understand what steps to take next.

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