Testimony In Support of House Bill 392, The CROWN Act

Testimony Before the Texas House State Affairs Committee 
In Support of House Bill 392, The CROWN Act 
Submitted By Amber Jones 
April 29, 2021

The Texas AFL-CIO, through its United Labor Legislative Committee (ULLCO), supports House Bill 392 by Representative Rhetta Bowers. Our labor federation includes affiliates representing about 240,000 union members in every part of the state and in most major industries in both the public and private sector. 

Racism and discrimination can affect people of color in a multitude of ways, and this includes hair-based discrimination. Studies have shown that our perception of someone is linked to their appearance, so we can see how important it is that stereotypes about “Professionalism” as it relates to a worker’s hair has no place being the basis for employment decisions in the workplace. 

Our definition of “professionalism” in the workplace must change to include broader cultural norms. Hairstyles, for many people, have unique cultural or individual significance, and it is not something you can just change. People of color are disproportionately affected by dress code/grooming policies that require them to wear their hair in a style that is deemed, “professional.” 

This bill balances the needs of employers and employees very evenly. Employers would still have the ability to implement safety/cleanliness guidelines, but as our perceptions of professionalism change, and as our cultural awareness grows, our legislation must follow. H.B. 392, otherwise known as the CROWN Act is an essential piece of anti-discrimination legislation and would make discrimination against people on the basis of hair associated with a certain race/ethnicity illegal in employment, in education, and additionally, in housing. This is directly in line with Texas AFL-CIO’s mission of standing in solidarity with all workers, and the fundamental priniciple that we should be judged on the basis of our work, not on stereotypes that have no foundation in reality. 

The Texas AFL-CIO believes in all employees having equal opportunity in the workplace, and this legislation further promotes that idea. The CROWN Act is an extremely important piece of the puzzle in terms of creating an equitable system for workers and students of color alike. 

We thank the House Committee on State Affairs for considering our views.