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House committee OKs bill to ban hair discrimination

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Posted at 8:13 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 22:13:03-05

DENVER (AP) — A Colorado bill that would ban racial discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle in the workplace, at school and elsewhere is on its way to the House floor.

Colorado’s Black Legislative caucus held a public meeting Wednesday on the issue before the bill was passed by the Democrat-led House Business Affairs and Labor Committee on a 6-4 party-line vote.

Known as the Crown Act, for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, the bill is one of dozens around the country addressing workplace bias and corporate grooming policies that disproportionately affect black women and men.

Colorado Politics reports that Crown Act laws have been passed in California, New York and New Jersey. In Congress, Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has introduced legislation that would “ban discrimination based on hair textures and hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.”

Among those testifying at the public meeting was Simone Ross, a business consultant and district manager for The Riveter, which offers work space and other amenities for startups.

Ross said many black women are obliged to change their hair from its natural state to fit into the workplace . She said she once had a manager who urged his colleagues to look at her braided hair.

“Watching a woman with braids was like being a monkey in a zoo,” she said. “Hair discrimination is racial discrimination.”