New Law! The CROWN Act Protects CT Employees with Hairstyles Tied to Their Race

Apr 30 2021

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh!

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda! What are we talking about today?

DeMatteis: Well, we have some exciting news. On March 5, Governor [Ned] Lamont signed into law The CROWN Act. And this has a direct impact immediately on Connecticut employees. The CROWN Act is an act creating a respectful and open world for natural hair. And I thought what we should do was educate folks on what this may mean for them in the workplace.

Goodbaum: This is a great development, and it’s a response to a real problem. So, employees of color in Connecticut and around the country – and, in particular, black women – were being treated differently, were being terminated, being harassed in the workplace, subjected to a hostile work environment because of their natural or culturally significant hairstyles – things like braids, cornrows, wigs, headwraps. So these people – particularly black women – were thinking, “Race discrimination is illegal, so I could go to court and get vindication for my rights.” But what the courts were often saying in response to these cases was, “Well, this has nothing to do with your race. This is just about your hair.” I guess this is on the theory that anyone could have cornrows or anyone could wear a wig. This is not actually about being black or being a member of a particular race; it’s just about hair. And what The CROWN Act says is, “No, this is about race.” Race means not just the color of your skin, but race also means traits historically associated with the color of your skin and with the culture around that. Things like hair texture or the way that people in particular ethnicities or cultures like to wear their hair. Connecticut becomes the eighth state (I believe) to pass this law, and it’s a great development for Connecticut workers, particularly people of color who deserve to be treated in their workplaces based on the performance of their jobs and not how they wear their hair. Right?

DeMatteis: Yeah, this is great. It’s such useful information. Thank you for sharing. If you’ve been impacted by this, know that now the law in Connecticut protects you. We appreciate you watching, and we hope you learned something. We’ll see you next time. Thanks a lot.

Goodbaum: Take care.

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Amanda DeMatteis and Josh Goodbaum explain the CROWN Act

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