Public employees in Michigan's Ingham County can no longer be discriminated against for their hair

Mar 24, 2021 at 10:34 am
click to enlarge Public employees in Michigan's Ingham County can no longer be discriminated against for their hair

Long hair, loc'd hair, big hair, don't care.

A Michigan county passed a resolution that bans the county's public employees from being discriminated against on the basis of hair, the Lansing State Journal reports.

The Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act passed unanimously on Tuesday by county commissioners and serves as a revision to the State of Michigan's Equal Opportunity Plan, which prohibits discrimination of employment within state departments and public positions regardless of race, religion, sex, height, weight, marital status, national origin, age, or disability.

Ingham County is the first in the state to adopt such a resolution.

“Ingham County will be on the forefront of these issues and this is another example of how we’ve been leading not just the region but the state on racial justice and equity issues,” Commissioner Derrell Slaughter stated Tuesday.

The resolution protects employees with natural hair and those who wear “protective styles” like braids, weaves, locs, and twists. It only protects public employees paid by the county, such as those who work in the courts and county clerk offices, as well as those in road service and health department positions.

Per the Lansing State Journal, Tuesday's meeting addressed the disproportionate discrimination people of color face at the workplace over their hair, referencing a 2019 study conducted by beauty brand Dove, which confirmed workplace bias by surveying 1,017 Black women and 1,050 non-Black women (92% of whom were white) between the ages 25-64 who worked in an office, sales, or corporate setting.

The study found that Black women are 30% more likely to be made aware of formal workplace appearance policies than non-Black employees and were more likely to be sent home for policies regarding hair. And 80% of Black women surveyed believe they need to change their natural hair to fit in within the workplace.

The Ingham County resolution is but one success in the fight against race-based hair discrimination. State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) reintroduced a similar bill to the Michigan House of Representatives last month, that would ultimately ban hair discrimination in all workplaces statewide, as well as in public school settings.

“It’s pretty historic for a county to be the first in the state to do this," Anthony said Tuesday. “In the shadow of 2020 when all of this racial unrest was happening and so many women who went natural during the pandemic, Ingham County is trying to be inclusive and not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.”

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