Kentucky governor signs executive order banning race-based hair discrimination

Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order mirroring the C.R.O.W.N. (Creating a Respectful World for Natural Hair) Act Thursday.

The Act prohibits discrimination towards hairstyles associated with race in the workplace, Beshear said. The governor signed the order during his weekly Team Kentucky press conference Thursday afternoon.

“Team Kentucky strives to be an employer of choice in all 120 counties,” Beshear said. “We set a standard for fair and inclusive workplaces and we lead the way by doing what is right.”

Melinda Wofford, assistant director of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and graduate of the Governor’s Minority Management Trainee Program, called the order a historic day for Kentucky. She thanked Beshear for recognizing her and added her hair is not a reflection of her work ethic and character.

“Acknowledging cultural uniqueness is a strength that provides peace in a world where everyone should feel comfortable and confident in reaching their full potential without fear of having to remove their crown,” Wofford said.

Previously people could be sent home or fined for their hairstyle in workplaces, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky. Black women have a higher chance of being sent home from work due to their hairstyle.

Black women are also 80% more likely to alter their hairstyle to fit in at the office, according to the ACLU.

Several communities, including Lexington last year, have already passed local ordinances prohibiting hairstyle discrimination in the workplace, most recently Covington, according to the ACLU. The ACLU supports the Act and encourages lawmakers to do the same.

“I’ve always believed that diversity is an asset and across Kentucky we’re building a brighter future for everyone,” Beshear said.