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Tennessee House passes the CROWN Act, taking next step prohibiting discrimination against hairstyles

The CROWN Act stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair" and would prevent employers from adopting policies against some hairstyles.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The state House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would prevent employers from adopting policies against many kinds of hairstyles, effectively prohibiting discrimination based on a person's hair.

The bill is called the CROWN Act, which stands for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair." It is sponsored by Senator Raumesh Akbari (D - Memphis) and was originally proposed in 2021. Some of the specific kinds of protected hairstyles include braids, locs, or twists.

They are a part of how many Black Americans show their identities, and the bill acknowledges the hairstyles as "part of the cultural identification of the employee's ethnic group."

The bill does not apply to public safety employees though if it would prevent them from performing their job requirements. It also specifies that employers must continue to follow state and federal health and safety regulations.

“Tennessee made history today in passing the CROWN Act and turning the page on decades of discrimination against natural hairstyles and textures,” said Rep. Karen Camper (D - Memphis) in a press release. “This is an important step toward freedom and respect for workers, no matter how we wear our hair.”

The Senate needs to make one final adjustment to the bill so that the language matches a sibling bill from the House of Representatives. Once that is done, it will be ready to send to Governor Bill Lee's desk for his signature.

Several other states have passed laws protecting hairstyles. A similar bill also passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March.


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