By: Michelle D. Patrick, Esq.
In March I wrote about New Jersey becoming the most recent state to pass a Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act. In October of 2020, the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County became the first city and county in Pennsylvania to pass their own CROWN Acts.
Pittsburgh’s CROWN Act specifically prohibits discrimination (in employment, housing, and public accommodations) based on “hairstyles and protective and cultural hair textures and hairstyles.” The City Code was amended to specifically prohibit discrimination based on “hairstyles and hair textures most commonly associated with race, including, but not limited to, braids, cornrows, locs, Bantu knots, Afros, and twists.” The Pittsburgh Commission on Human Relations, the agency responsible for overseeing discrimination, recently issued CROWN Act Guidance designed to aid both employees and employers.
Allegheny County amended its Human Relations Ordinance to prohibit discrimination (in employment, housing, public accommodation, and public education) based on “hairstyle.” The Ordinance defines hairstyle to include “such characteristic, texture, form or manner of wearing an individuals hair if such characteristic, texture, form or manner is commonly associated with a particular race, national origin, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or religion.”
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania may soon follow suit. In September, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed H.R. 5309 prohibiting discrimination based on natural hair styles. H.R. 5309 specifically prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and federally assisted programs. H.R. 5309 is currently pending in the Senate.
If you have been the victim of employment discrimination based on a natural hairstyle you should consult with an attorney. The attorneys at the Ezold Law Firm are experienced employment attorneys who are here to assist you. We can be reached at (610) 660-5585.