CROWN Act Took Effect January 1st, 2020

Workplace discrimination can go far beyond someone’s gender, race, or sexual orientation. Sometimes, it involves the way someone wears their hair to enforce race-neutral grooming policies. Many companies subscribe to a professional appearance that is linked to traditionally Anglo-European features and mannerisms, discriminating against those who are not of European descent or forcing them to permanently change to be viewed as professional. Such policies are more likely to dissuade black applicants and burden or penalize black employees than any other group.

In recognition of this, on July 3, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 188 into law. Otherwise known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, this law is set to take effect January 1, 2020, and expands the California Education Code and the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s classification of race to include traits historically related to race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles. Braids, locks, and twists are all considered to be protected hairstyles.

If you have been impacted by hairstyle discrimination in the workplace, an experienced Redding workplace discrimination attorney can help you hold the appropriate parties liable for your damages, so it’s important to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as you can.

California First State to Address Hairstyle Discrimination

Sen. Holly Mitchel (D) of Los Angeles introduced this bill in early 2019 and explained that it is about inclusion, pride, and choice for African American Californians who should not be pressured to conform to Eurocentric norms. This law codifies the fact that hair discrimination focused on hairstyles associated with an individual’s race is, in fact, racial discrimination.

With the CROWN Act, California is the first state to ban discrimination against natural hairstyles such as:

  • Cornrows
  • Afros
  • Braids
  • Twists
  • Dreadlocks

These are hairstyles commonly found in the African American community and are generally based on their cultural norms and hair texture. This bill addresses that African American people are disparately affected and not welcome in some workplaces due to their hairstyles and expressly provides that certain hairstyles are closely associated with race. If a dress code or grooming standard unfavorably impacts a particular race, the employer has a duty to prove that it is job-related and consistent with business necessity. Otherwise, they may be subject to legal consequences.

California is paving the way when it comes to hair discrimination, and other states are following suit. On July 12, 2019, New York signed into law a similar law that prohibits discrimination based on natural hairstyles. New Jersey currently has a comparable bill pending in the Senate. Although only these three states are now addressing the issue of hairstyle discrimination in the workplace, employers in other states will need to be aware that legislation of this sort is likely to come there way in the near future.

Will California Broaden Protections Even More?

With the CROWN Act recognizing the connection between natural hair and an individual’s race, many observers believe that California lawmakers are going to broaden the scope of protections to include even more subtle forms of discrimination. This means that going forward, employers will need to readily recognize bias to prevent discrimination in the workplace.

As of January 1, 2020, employees and those in K-12 public schools will have protection from discrimination based on natural hair or protective hairstyles. Employers should review and revise their grooming policies in accordance with the new law to ensure they are complying with the CROWN Act. Those who do not could find themselves as defendants in a lawsuit if the employee or student chooses to hire a Redding workplace discrimination lawyer. Furthermore, employers are encouraged to provide training to their managers, supervisors, and all employees to help eliminate discrimination based on hairstyles.

Hire a Skilled Workplace Discrimination Attorney in Redding

If you are the victim of workplace discrimination, you have rights and protections set forth by both state and federal laws. You also have the right to hire a skilled workplace discrimination lawyer in Redding to pursue justice and compensation for your damages. The sooner you speak to an attorney, the better as your legal rights to do so can expire.

An employment discrimination claim must be filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) within three yeara of the discrimination event, or your rights to seek recovery may be barred. Schedule your consultation today. Call Maire & Deedon at 530-246-6050, or if you prefer, use our online contact form. We are here to help you, no matter what type of discrimination you face.