ROCKVILLE, Md. (WDVM) — A new law could pass in Montgomery County that would prevent employers from discriminating against employees based on their natural hair.
It’s hard enough trying to find a job, but imagine not getting one because of your hair. Montgomery County Councilmember, Will Jawando, introduced the CROWN Act, which will prevent employers from discriminating against someone based on their natural hair.
“In 1978, I was fired from my job because of my braided hairstyle,” said owner of Cornrows & Co., Pamela Farrell.
After Farrell was fired from her job, she became an advocate for those who struggled trying to fit the bill by straightening their hair. ‘CROWN’ stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair.
Some county residents spoke at a hearing to address challenges they faced for wearing natural hairstyles, like braids, locks, afros, curls and twists.
“Communities of color, hairstyle is inherently tied to racial equity, and we’ve seen this discrimination arise because of the connection of identity with people of color,” Jawando stated.
Professor of Law at Drexel University, Dr. Wendy Greene said, “There’s a negative perception that natural hairstyles, that African descendants wear, are unprofessional, or unkempt or unattractive.”
Employees who face discrimination for choosing to go natural can seek a civil penalty of up to $5,000 through the county’s Office of Human Rights. “Our hair has absolutely nothing to do with our abilities to perform our jobs and our competencies,” Dr. Greene stated. If this bill passes, it’ll be the first county in the area where your hair won’t interfere with your work life.
Several states, including New York and California, have recently adopted, or introduced similar measures.