Long-awaited legislation has passed in the City of Pittsburgh to counter hairstyle discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public accommodations.

By Frederick A. Hasney IV

Photo: Christina Morillo via Pexels

As a major victory for civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation, the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”, has been passed by the city council and signed into law by Mayor Peduto.

This act seeks to provide further protections to Black Pittsburghers against all forms of hairstyle discrimination that continues to affect many individuals in their professional, educational, and public lives. The research used to support this piece of legislature was recently released through the JOY Collective’s CROWN study. This study revealed quantified data that shows the mistreatment of black individuals in the workplace due to their hairstyles. One of the statistics that was presented is that Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair.

The hope is that with the implementation of these new policies, employees and residents of the community will not have to experience this form of discrimination any longer. Mayor Peduto expressed that, “The City of Pittsburgh is committed to equity and to eliminating the barriers that unfairly affect our communities.”

An important feature of the act is the provisions that allow for legal recourse for anyone who is experiencing discrimination based on their hair or hairstyle. A person will have the ability to file a report or claim with the City of Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations (CHR). The CHR has also published and distributed information to help business owners understand the new ordinance and transition into a more inclusive environment.

When discussing the act, CHR’s Executive Director Megan Stanley stated, “Pittsburgh’s CROWN legislation is an important step in creating explicit protections that can help us realize a more inclusive and racially-just city.”

There have been similar pieces of CROWN legislation that have passed and been implemented in California, Colorado, and New Jersey. Additionally, at the national level, the CROWN Act of 2020 was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on September 21st, 2020.

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