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“I Woke Up Like This”: California is next to fight against hair discrimination at work

The Orange Country is pushing for legislation to end hair discrimination at work and in schools.


Have you ever been sent home from work because of your hairstyle?

No – I’m not talking about a ridiculous Mohawk or neon green highlights.

For decades, African Americans have long been suffering from workplace discrimination in a society that favors Eurocentrism – one that discriminates against Black people’s natural hair.

According to the latest study by haircare brand Dove, Black women report being 30% more likely to receive a formal grooming policy in the workplace.

Furthermore, the survey reveals that hairstyles inherent to Black identity – locs, braids, and natural curls – are perceived as less professional.


The research study surveyed 2,000 women ages 25-64 in office settings around the US.

It uncovers how societal norms and corporate grooming policies unfairly impact Black women in the workplace, including how they are judged differently based on the appearance of their hair.

"This ground-breaking research provides evidence of what we have always known anecdotally – that black women experience discrimination in the workplace due to their natural hair," said Marc Morial, CEO of the National Urban League and Former Mayor of New Orleans.

Biased perception towards Black women’s hairstyles in the workplace clouds one’s perspective regarding her ‘job readiness’:

• The survey shows that Black women were 1.5 times more likely to have reported having been sent home or know of a Black women sent home from the workplace because of her hair.

• Natural Black hairstyles such as locs, braids, bantu knots, etc. were ranked the lowest for 'job readiness.'

• Black women reported they are 80% more likely to change their natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work.

However, recently we are witnessing a glimpse of hope as more and more states jumped on the bandwagon in joining the parade to end racial discrimination against people with natural hairstyles such as braids, twists, and afros.

California is next.

Last week, the Senate passed the CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) which will ban discrimination against employees based off their hairstyle.

The CROWN Act, also known as SB188, would ban schools and workplaces from having dress codes that forbid braids, twists and other natural hair styles has passed the California State Senate.

Senator Holly J. Mitchell / source: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

"A google image search for 'unprofessional hairstyles' yielded only pictures of Black women with their natural hair or wearing natural braids or twists," says Los Angeles Senator Holly J. Mitchell in a recent speech.

Mitchell said that African-American men and women have often had to endure expensive, painful and even dangerous chemical treatments to change their hair to conform to these beauty standards.

The act’s approval was greeted by overwhelming welcome on social media.

One person wrote, "We hope this is the beginning of the end to racial discrimination based on hair in this country and around the world!"

The bill follows the footsteps of New York City, which banned hair discrimination in February. Last July, the U.S. Navy also amended its policies to allow wider buns, ponytails and loc hairstyles.

Follow @Dove on Twitter and #CrownCoalition to see the status of SB188 and identify how you can get involved in bringing anti-hair discrimination legislation to your state.

Additionally a petition is available at to show support of the current California legislation.

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