Comedian, actress and writer Jessica Williams displaying a natural hairstyle. Photo by John Carucci/AP.

Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from discrimination and bias against their natural hair texture and styles.  Harris County Commissioners Court recently joined the national movement to guarantee county employees the right to work in an environment that remains open and respectful to natural hair by adopting a CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act resolution.

This resolution calls for the county’s human resources department to develop updated personnel language that specifically prohibits natural hair discrimination.

“There is a long history of discrimination against natural hairstyles, particularly those worn by people of African descent,” said Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis, who sponsored the resolution. “This has been an issue in the military, corporate America and schools. Students have been suspended from schools – including some in the Houston area – for the way their hair looks.”

Last year, the U.S. House passed the CROWN Act that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin. Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations and employment. The Senate hasn’t voted on the Act.

Fourteen states and at least 29 local governments have adopted the CROWN Act or similar language, Commissioner Ellis said. During the regular Texas Legislative session, Reps. Rhetta Bowers and Ron Reynolds introduced a bill modeled after the CROWN Act, which had over 60 bipartisan co-sponsors. 

“This bill is not state law yet,” Commissioner Ellis said. “But, I am proud that Harris County is leading the way by setting a policy for a respectful workplace environment for natural hair.”