The movement to stamp out workplace discrimination over the style of a person’s hair has begun in Michigan. In a historic move, Ingham County – where the state capital of Lansing is located – passed an ordinance on March 23, prohibiting hair discrimination against public county employees. It becomes the first county in the state to have such a law in place.
In the past few years, this issue has been an emotional topic as many people of color face discrimination in the workplace. Ingham County is among several counties and cities throughout the country to implement such laws designed to outlaw discrimination against employees for naturally wearing their hair. In early March, Connecticut became the most recent state to do so, joining California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington.
CROWN Act spreading in the nation
Patterned after the CROWN Act, Ingham County’s new ordinance falls under the umbrella of the county’s equal opportunity guidelines that ban all forms of racial discrimination. CROWN is an acronym for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.”
The county commission unanimously passed the resolution, which also follows in the footsteps of a similar state bill reintroduced in mid-February in the Michigan House of Representatives. The county’s resolution and the state bill each cited a 2019 study initiated by Unilever’s Dove brand soap. Its findings disclosed that Black women had the highest rates of hair-related discrimination than any gender or race.
The resolution applies to the county’s more than 1,000 employees, including those who work in the court, county clerk’s office, road services and the health department. In addition, the county’s act provides protection for employees who naturally wear their hair as well as in styles such as braids, locks, twists and weaves.