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Can an Indiana worker be fired for wearing their hair naturally?

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2023 | Discrimination

If you are a person of color, you already may have experienced a type of on-the-job discrimination regarding the way you wear your hair naturally at work. Even though evidence has shown a correlation between the use of hair straighteners and an uptick in uterine cancer diagnoses, many employers continue to insist that the typical natural hairstyles worn by people of color be modified in the workplace.

Although there is no federal legislation, many states have enacted laws like the CROWN Act, the acronym for “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair” intended to combat hair discrimination in the workplace.

Does Indiana have the CROWN Act?

As of October 2023, Indiana has not passed any version of the CROWN Act. There has been some legislative activity toward that goal, but, to date, nothing has been signed into law that protects workers and allows them to wear their hair naturally at work without facing repercussions from their employers.

Are workers without recourse in the matter?

Not necessarily. Even without the passage of the CROWN Act or its statewide equivalent, Indiana workers who face hair discrimination on the job could potentially have options they can pursue against discriminatory practices.

The hair discrimination they experienced may be part of a larger problem of microaggressions from management, co-workers or even the public they serve. All of these incidents could collectively be used to build a case of racial discrimination against an employer who was unfairly targeting African-American workers or other people of color whom they employ.