New CA law that prohibits discrimination based on hair style starts Jan. 1

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- A law protecting against some discrimination based on hair texture and style kicks in on New Year's Day.

The Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act, based on California legislation SB 188, prohibits discrimination because of natural hair texture and race-related style.

Nic Lange, owner of House of Lange Hair Design, hears the stories from the chair.

"Historically, it has affected more people with textured, curlier unruly hair because they were always told the only route to go is to have it polished and straighten that curl versus embracing that curl," Lange said.

Pam Lee is a Partner with Aleshire and Wynder, LLP. Her firm is guiding clients to make sure they are in compliance with SB 188.

RELATED: New California laws that take effect Jan. 1, 2020

"The disparate impact on African-American people and particularly African-American women has been disproportionately high and so that's how this law has come up," Lee said.

The bill applies to public schools, public and private employers, and excludes religious associations and nonprofit organizations.

"The law still allows an employer to have certain policies and standards with respect to hairstyle if it affects the health and safety or the hygiene of the employee and those who they serve and protect," Lee said.

Lange said he hoped the CROWN Act was just the start of more laws protecting forms of expression, whether natural or chosen.

"I also think it goes beyond race. It goes into the perspective of people who are transitioning as well. It's a win for everyone when you're pushing away from that and laws like this is are actually really helping them to embrace who they are," Lange said.

The bill mainly focused on hair texture and style, but prohibits discrimination based on traits historically associated with race.
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