ILLINOIS (WEHT) – Governor Pritzker signed an act into law, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to include hair-based discrimination under anti-racism protections.

The Governor’s Press Office says Governor Pritzker signed the CROWN Act into law, codifying protections for people discriminated against due to hairstyles historically associated with specific racial groups. The act, which stands for Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair, categorizes traits such as hair texture or protective styling as race-based and therefore protected under bans against racial discrimination.

“The signing of the Illinois CROWN act ensures Illinois continues to respect and elevate black people regardless of how they want to wear their hair,” State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) said. “Similar to the Jett Hawkins Act we passed last year which outlaws discrimination against black hair in all schools, this act protects black people who wear their hair how they want in workplaces. This law creates a more respectful, expressive and open workplace.”

The Governor’s Press Office says in 2021, Governor Pritzker signed the Jett Hawkins Act, introduced by Senator Mike Simmons, which banned hairstyle discrimination in Illinois schools. The CROWN Act expands these protections to other covered situations under the Illinois Human Rights Act, including employment, housing, financial transactions, and public accommodations. Illinois is one of only a handful of states to pass the CROWN Act, a national version of which passed the U.S. House of Representatives but has failed to advance in the U.S. Senate. The bill expands and clarifies the definition of race to include traits commonly associated with a race, including by not limited to these hairstyles and textures.

The press release says studies have found that Black women are 1.5 times more likely than their counterparts to be sent home from work because of their hairstyle and are 80% more likely to change their natural hair texture or style to conform to expectations at work. The American Bar Association reports children as young as six facing disciplinary action for their hairstyles.

The press release says this law goes into effect on January 1, 2023.