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Wisconsin considers new measure to address workplace discrimination

Last summer, Rep. LaKeshia Myers of Milwaukee introduced the CROWN Act in the Wisconsin legislature. The measure is designed to end racial discrimination in the workplace based on natural hairstyles and textures.

Myers and other proponents argue that while Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender, race, color, national origin and religion, the law should be expanded to protect employees from discriminatory workplace grooming policies that typically target employees of color.

The CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act has been gaining momentum across the nation. It has so far been introduced or passed in 29 states, as well as in several more individual cities and counties.

The NAACP, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Anti-Defamation League and the American Academy of Pediatrics are among the prominent organizations supporting the measure.

According to a news report, the CROWN Research Study surveyed 2,000 women working full-time in various professions across the nation. Half the respondents were black and half were non-black. Nearly 80 percent of African-American women said they agree with this statement: “I have to change my hair from its natural state to fit in at the office.”

Eighty-three percent of African-American respondents said they are judged more harshly on looks than other women.

Other findings from the study include the following:

  • African-American women are 30 percent more likely to be made aware of a formal workplace appearance policy
  • Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace over their hair
  • African-American women’s hair is 3.4 times more likely to be viewed as unprofessional

While the CROWN Act is not yet in effect in Wisconsin, there are existing laws that prohibit workplace discrimination based on race and gender. Schedule an appointment with the employment law attorneys at the Milwaukee law offices of Alan C. Olson and Associates to discuss your situation.

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