LANSING, Mich. — Ingham County is now the first county in Michigan to ban hair discrimination against its employees.
The newly adopted measure will be added to the county’s equal opportunity employment policies under the section banning racial discrimination of any kind.
“Having to deal with discrimination around your hair is always something I’ve been aware of. I think this is just a manifestation of us recognizing it and tht it’s a thing and it's time to make some changes,“ said County Commissioner Darrell Slaughter.
The measure, approved by the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night, puts Ingham County in the forefront of a movement that is sweeping across the nation, calling out employers for penalizing workers who wear their hair naturally.
State Rep. Sarah Anthony, D- Lansing, is sponsoring anti-hair discrimination legislation at the state level but says the Commission is doing the right thing, at the right time.
“Now there’s a little bit of anxiety about, now that we’re transitioning back into the workplace will they be accepted will they be up for that promotion? Or will they not be embraced or actually penalized because of them wearing their hair in this natural state?” Anthony said.
Right now, the county employs more than 1,000 people. It's unclear how many of them identify as people of color.
The newly approved measure was modeled after the CROWN Act. Crown is an acronym for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair."
According to crownact.com, 80 percent of Black women report having to straighten their hair to fit into the workplace and Black women are sent home from work 1.5 times more than their white counterparts because of their hair.
“Employees should be able to come in and be their full selves," Slaughter said, "and a part of that is how they choose to do their hair or have their hair done. It should not be the subject of any type of discrimination."
Slaughter hopes surrounding counties and municipalities will follow suit and adopt similar legislation.