The CROWN Act: Protecting Natural Hairstyles - A Root to End Overview for Employers on Hair Discrimination Laws

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Executive Summary:

Many have said that the workplace tends to be society’s battlefield—where culture wars play out and emerging trends go up against long-established ones. This notion holds true with the controversial issue of hair in the workplace that has been brought to the forefront of this battle in the past year and a half via the CROWN Act. The CROWN Act (which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), prohibits discrimination based on natural hair style and texture. Variations of this bill have been introduced in 29 states and even at the federal level. Now more than ever, employers must look at several federal, state, and local laws—which are constantly changing to keep up with societal views—to ensure their employee handbooks and appearance policies are non-discriminatory and overall legal. Therefore, while employers have traditionally created “professional” appearance standards to include the banning of certain hairstyles (such as cornrows, braids, twists, dreadlocks, etc.), employers could now be facing potential litigation for those same policies.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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