With the CROWN Act, Kansas City Amends Definition of Race Discrimination to Include Hair Texture and Style

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On October 1, 2020, the Kansas City, Missouri City Council unanimously voted to enact the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act (“CROWN Act”).  The CROWN Act addresses discrimination based on natural hair or particular hairstyles traditionally tied to race.  In short, the CROWN ACT sets forth that “hair discrimination targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination.”

The CROWN Act, Ordinance No. 200837, modifies the definition of “Race” to include “traits historically associated with race including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”  The CROWN Act further defines “protective hairstyles” to include, though not limited to, “such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.”  In its preamble, the CROWN Act also identifies afros, making it clear that they are a protected hairstyle as well.

While Kansas City may be one of the first cities in the country to pass such an ordinance, it is just one of many jurisdictions passing similar expansions of race discrimination protections — including state laws in California, Virginia, New York, Colorado, Washington, and Maryland. 

The CROWN Act goes into effect on November 1, 2020.

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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