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Members of Congress seek to make the CROWN Act federal law

Laws aimed at preventing workplace discrimination based on hairstyle or hair texture are becoming more common across the country. New York, California and, most recently, New Jersey, have enacted versions of what's known as the CROWN Act. It stands for "Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair." Cincinnati is one of the localities with such an ordinance.

Now some lawmakers in Congress are working to make the CROWN Act a federal law. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker has introduced a CROWN Act bill in the Senate. Four members of the House of Representatives, including Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, have introduced a similar bill in their chamber.

The CROWN Act laws have largely been enacted to address hair discrimination against African Americans and hairstyles including Afros, cornrows and dreadlocks. Rep. Fudge says, "Traditional hairstyles worn by African Americans are often necessary to meet our unique needs and are a representation of our culture and ethnicity. To require anyone to change their natural appearance to acquire educational resources or a job is undeniably an infringement on their civil rights."

Sen. Booker, who's seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, says, "Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people. Implicit and explicit biases against natural hair are deeply ingrained in workplace norms and society at largeā€¦No one should be harassed, punished, or fired for the beautiful hairstyles that are true to themselves and their cultural heritage."

It's essential for Cincinnati employers to understand the local, state and federal laws that impact their relationships with employees. You can't be expected to keep up on all of the changes to these laws, so it's wise to have an experienced attorney to provide guidance.

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