CROWN Act made law in Tennessee

Published: Jul. 2, 2022 at 7:09 PM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As of July 1, Tennessee is the first state in the Mid-South to make the CROWN Act law.

It stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. This new law prevents employers from discriminating against natural hair or protective hairstyles like braids, locs and twists.

“I think people have a right to be proud of their hair and who they are, and now this bill is going to protect them so that they can’t be fired because of it,” said State Senator Raumesh Akbari.

State Senator Rameush Akbari sponsored Senate Bill 136. For her, passing this legislation is a long time coming. Memphis stylist Leteesha Smith couldn’t agree more.

“You should not be judged or discriminated against by how you wear your hair,” Smith said. “Everyone’s hair defines them, whether it’s highlights, dreads, braided hair, it doesn’t matter. Your hair basically describes your personality.”

Smith has been a stylist for 15 years. She says she’s had clients afraid to wear a protective hairstyle out of concern it may cause them to miss out on job opportunities.

“The majority of women who are employed, particularly black women, have felt that they’ve had some sort of adverse reaction against them because of their hair, so it’s very important,” Akbari said.

The CROWN Act is now law in 17 states.

Both Akbari and Smith believe it’ll make an impact on women and men across the country.

The CROWN Act does not apply to public safety employees if a protective style would prevent them from performing essential parts of their job.

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