Montgomery Co. bill aims to ban workplace discrimination of natural hair styles

African American Woman(Getty Images/iStockphoto/digitalskillet)
A Montgomery County, Maryland, bill designed to protect black employees against discrimination for wearing their natural hair in the workplace will be introduced during Tuesday’s county council session.

The CROWN Act — which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” — will be brought before the council on Tuesday morning by its lead sponsors, Council members Will Jawando and Nancy Navarro.

“I’ll never forget the first time one of my daughters asked me why her hair wasn’t straight like that of the girls on television,” Jawando wrote in a letter to the editor at The Washington Post, explaining his move against the discrimination of natural hairstyles.

“I told her she was beautiful the way she was created and that I would fight to ensure that no one would force her, or her hair, to be otherwise.”

Jawando said this kind of discrimination affects how residents in the county live and work, invoking the experiences of black men and women who have felt subconsciously — or overtly — shamed into taming their natural hair.

The CROWN Act would apply county anti-discrimination laws to protect a range of hairstyles historically associated with race, including braids, afros and twists.

A public hearing on the bill will be held Oct. 15.

Watch Tuesday’s council session below. An agenda is available online.

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Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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