How you choose to cut and style your hair is mostly up to you. For many people, their hair is more than something that grows from the top of their heads. It is a way to express their creativity and celebrate their racial or ethnic heritage. But your hair can also make you a target of bigoted coworkers, supervisors and managers on the job.
Though many hairstyles, such as dreadlocks, braids and twists, are closely associated with Black people, especially women, discriminating against a worker based on their hair has traditionally not been grounds for a lawsuit in this country. But slowly, more and more U.S. cities and states are adopting what’s known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act.
Protecting workers from hair-based discrimination
This law prohibits workplace discrimination based on the employee having certain hairstyles. So far, 21 states have passed a version of the CROWN Act, though Kentucky isn’t one of them. However, three cities have passed ordinances enacting it: Louisville, Covington and Frankfort. The Lexington-Fayette Urban City Council’s General Government and Planning Committee recently voted unanimously to approve the CROWN Act. If the full city council also approves it, Lexington would become the fourth Kentucky city to adopt it. It would also mean Kentucky’s two largest cities have banned hair-based racial or ethnic discrimination.
Did my boss fire me because of my hair?
Workplace discrimination can be subtle. You might strongly suspect you were fired, demoted or otherwise punished because of your race, sex, nation of origin or other illegal reason. But proving it is often difficult. Employers generally give some pretext for their actions instead of outright admitting they discriminated against you because of your hair, skin color or ethnicity. Still, an experienced employment law attorney knows what the signs of illegal discrimination are and how to find them.