A few years ago, I talked with some students about a report they were doing for NPR about how hairstyles and race have been historically intertwined.
Earlier this week, the Connecticut General Assembly gave final approval a bill that seeks to right some of these historical wrongs by making it illegal to discriminate in employment on the basis of a hairstyle related to the person’s race.
Specifically House Bill 6515 amends the state’s anti-discrimination laws to define race as being “inclusive of ethnic traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles.”.
“Protective hairstyles” is further defined as including “wigs, headwraps and hairstyles such as individual braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros and afro puffs”.
Connecticut now joins several other states in this action. A version of this type of bill is known as the CROWN act.
Governor Lamont has indicated that he will sign the bill. The bill becomes effective upon his signature, so employers need to be sure that their workplaces are aware of this new rule.
In particular, employers should update their anti-discrimination policies and employee handbooks. They also also ensure that hiring managers aren’t screening employees based on their hairstyles.