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Press Releases - County Council

CROWN Act Becomes Law in Montgomery County

For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 6, 2020

Bill sponsored by Councilmembers Jawando and Navarro aims to end discrimination based on natural hairstyles

ROCKVILLE, Md., Feb. 6, 2020 — Montgomery County residents who wear their hair in natural hairstyles are protected from discrimination starting today, Feb. 6, when the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) becomes law.

The legislation, originally sponsored as Bill 30-19 by Councilmembers Will Jawando and Nancy Navarro, prohibits discrimination based on natural hairstyles such as braids, locks, afros, curls and twists. African American residents and residents with African ancestry are more likely to be affected by workplace discrimination and other forms of prejudice. While considering the bill, the County Council heard testimony from residents about the level of discrimination they suffered due to their choice to wear natural and protective hairstyles.

The CROWN Act ensures that individuals who are discriminated against because of the appearance of their natural hair can seek a civil penalty of up to $5,000 through the County’s Office of Human Rights. The bill not only covers discrimination in employment but also in public accommodations, taxi services, admissions to group homes and cable services. The new law specifies that race includes “traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

Montgomery County is the first local jurisdiction to introduce such a law. Last year, New York, California and New Jersey passed legislation prohibiting discrimination based on an individual’s hairstyle.

According to the CROWN Coalition, which advocated for the enactment of the CROWN Act prohibiting hair discrimination in California, black women in the U.S. are 80 percent more likely than their colleagues to change their natural hairstyle to conform to workplace expectations. The practice of workplace hair discrimination is deeply rooted in institutional and systemic racism against African American self-expression.

The CROWN Act can be viewed here.


Release ID: 20-040
Media Contact: Cecily Thorne 240-777-7781