SPRINGFIELD – A measure led by State Senator Mattie Hunter to end hair discrimination in the workplace will be implemented at the start of the new year.

“Hair discrimination has no place in this day and age,” said Hunter (D-Chicago). “As a country, we should be past people missing out on job opportunities because of the way their hair grows out of their head, and this law will provide protections from such discrimination.”

Senate Bill 3616 – also known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act – amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to provide that the term “race” includes traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks and twists.

A Dove study uncovered that 80% of African American women felt they needed to switch their hairstyle to align with more conservative workplace standards in order to fit in. The Dove study also noted a bias against Black women with natural hairstyles in job recruitment.

Black women with natural hairstyles were perceived to be less professional, less competent and less likely to be recommended for a job interview than Black women with straightened hairstyles and white women with either curly or straight hairstyles.

Hair discrimination occurs not only in the workplace, but in schools across the country. The Illinois General Assembly also passed the Jett Hawkins Act in response to a four-year old boy in Chicago who was told his braids violated his private school’s dress code.

“Black people should have the right to be expressive and creative with their hair and not worry about appearing ‘unprofessional’ to others or violating a conduct policy because of it,” Hunter said. “If it is wrong to judge by the color of one’s skin, isn’t it also wrong to judge someone’s natural hair?”

The CROWN Act takes effect Jan. 1.