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Senate Bill 188 ends Discrimination Based on Hairstyle Passes Committee

Image is Sen. Holly J. Mitchell with a protective hairstyleThe Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill by Sen. Holly J. Mitchell, D-Culver City to end discrimination based on hairstyles.  Martin Feinberg, Realtor, notes that the bill, known as Senate Bill 188, amends the Fair Employment and Housing Act and is meant to prohibit employers from enforcing “race neutral” grooming policies.  It passed in a 7-0 vote.

Federal anti-discrimination laws clearly defend the right of employees to wear an Afro but were silent in regards to “protective hairstyles” such as braids, locs, and twists.  Black women and men typically wear these hairstyles.  Senate Bill 188 is meant to cover that gap.

Sen. Holly Mitchell stated, “We are not talking about rainbow-colored tresses or pink mohawks, we are speaking of groomed hairstyles like my locs, that would, without question, fit an image of professionalism, if bias or negative stereotypes of Black people were not involved. These purportedly “race-neutral” workplace grooming policies that ban braids, twists, cornrows, or locs may apply to employees or applicants of all races, however they have a disparate impact on Black men and women.”

As such Mitchell’s contention is that, “This means that these policies are far more likely to exclude Black individuals from the workplace than people of any other race.”

Senate Bill 188 is sponsored by The CROWN Coalition, a national alliance comprised of the National Urban League, Western Center on Law & Poverty, Color Of Change and Dove.

This nationwide coalition was created after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS) alleging racial discrimination based on hair in 2018. EEOC filed the lawsuit on behalf of Chastity Jones, a Black woman who was forced to choose between a job offer with CMS and her locks.

Senate Bill 188 amends section 12926 of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to read as follows: “Race is inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

Local listing agent Martin Feinberg notes that the ACLU supports the bill, agreeing that hair discrimination is “rooted in a legacy of race and gender bias, [and] remains a harmful practice with serious economic and health consequences, particularly for Black women in employment settings.”

The California Black Chamber of Commerce also supports Senate Bill 188 as legislation that advances “access to economic opportunities for African American businesses and the communities in which their employees work, live, and play.”

Senate Bill 188 is the first in a package of new bills that Mitchell, who represents the Culver City Real Estate area, will be introducing aimed at #EcomonicEquity and #HealthEquity.

Image is a Black man with dreadlocks yelling into a megaphone against a yellow background.