JOINT NEWS RELEASE
Rep. Esther Agbaje
District 59B, 651-296-8659, firstname.lastname@example.org
539 State Office Building, St. Paul, MN 55155
Sen. Bobby Joe Champion
District 59, 651-296-9246 email@example.com
Minnesota Senate Bldg. Rm 2401, St. Paul, MN 55155
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lindy Sowmick
989-289-8593 or firstname.lastname@example.org
February 28, 2022
CROWN Act passes the House floor, awaits action in the Senate
SAINT PAUL, MN - This evening, the CROWN Act passed off of the House floor with a vote of 104-25. CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, and the proposal would add a provision to the Minnesota Human Rights Act to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of hair appearance and texture.
Fourteen states have already passed proposals like this one into law.
“I myself have straightened my hair in the past, in the fear of looking ‘unprofessional’ in the workplace,” said Representative Esther Agbaje (DFL—Minneapolis). “A piece of normalizing beautiful Black natural hair in the workplace, is providing protection against discrimination. This is a small change to our Minnesota Human Rights Act that will make a huge difference in how safe Black Minnesotans feel in the workplace.”
“We can’t talk about diversity, racial equity and justice in the workplace without talking about discriminatory policies such as a dress code and appearance code, which also prevents black and brown people from accessing economic opportunities, in addition to its impact on our mental health. We are the only ethnic group who has to have a law to protect something that is already a part of our DNA.” said Vachel Hudson, Housing and Financial Capabilities Manager of Urban League Twin Cities. “Our youth and community would have more upside and impact on society if exposed to positive role models who look like us, and we perform better when we can be our authentic selves. As the epicenter for a global racial awakening, Minnesota has continued to be under the microscope of what and how our society wants to move forward.”
“All Minnesotans deserve equal opportunities in the workplace, in schools, and in everyday life and need to come forward when discrimination takes place,” said Linda Sloan, Executive Director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage. “The CROWN ACT ensures that Minnesotans have the basic right and freedom to be their authentic selves by wearing their natural hair without negative consequences.”
“??In building a more just and prosperous Minnesota, the Minnesota Business Coalition for Racial Equity (MBCRE) wants to ensure that Black Minnesotans can be hired, retained and can advance at work without race-based discrimination,” said Tiffani Daniels, Managing Director of MBCRE. “MBCRE supports the CROWN Act so that Black Minnesotans can have the freedom to show up as they are in the workplace, which can drive higher employee engagement, productivity, and innovation in the work environment.”
“The CROWN Act is an important measure that will provide protection from discriminatory hiring practices against Black Minnesotans,” said Senator Bobby Joe Champion (DFL—Minneapolis). “I thank Rep. Agbaje for her work on this issue and I'm grateful for the passage of this bill through the House. I urge my Senate colleagues to take up this legislation with a sense of urgency, rather than delaying the bill and keeping it on the Senate’s general register for the rest of session. We have assembled a strong coalition in support of this bill, and over the coming weeks, we will urge the Senate Republican majority to act upon it.”
The bill passed with the support of the Minnesota Human Rights Department. It’s now sitting on the Senate’s general register, waiting for a hearing.
Video of the floor debate can be found here.