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What Is the CROWN Act?

June 14, 2021
By Haeggquist & Eck

When the CROWN Act passed in 2019, California became the first state in the U.S. to ban workplace and education discrimination based upon one’s hairstyle or texture, particularly when either is associated with race.

Employers are now prohibited from the following and other such activities:

  • Creating or enforcing grooming standards that discriminate on the basis of one’s hairstyle or texture
  • Choosing whether or not to hire an employee based upon their hairstyle or willingness to conform with a discriminatory grooming standard
  • Harassing an employee for wearing a natural hair style
  • Retaliating against an employee, including firing them, for refusing to conform to a discriminatory grooming standard

Creating a Link between Race & Hair

California’s CROWN Act effectively creates a legal link between race and hair, banning discrimination that has gone under the radar for decades. Specific hairstyles that are now protected by law include braids, locks, twists, afros, and other natural Black hairstyles.

Specific hairstyles that the law protects include the following:

  • Braids
  • Locks
  • Twists
  • Afros

Until the law took effect in 2020, it was possible for employers to enforce grooming standards and make decisions regarding one’s employment – including whether to hire or fire them – based upon how they styled their hair or their willingness to style it in an unnatural way.

This disproportionately affected Black Americans and other people of color with hair that was time-consuming, difficult, and costly to maintain in any other way than as it naturally grew from their heads.

Not only did hair discrimination create unnecessary barriers of entry for certain professions, but it also provided employers with a cover to conceal their intent if they wished to discriminate on the basis of race.

That should end now that the CROWN Act is in effect, but those who still face discrimination because of their hairstyle or hair texture should consult with an attorney to learn more about their legal options.

If you’ve experienced this type of discrimination after Jan. 1, 2020, Haeggquist & Eck, LLP can help you validate your claim and even pursue legal action against your employer. We offer a free consultation to help potential clients understand their rights and how our services can help them assert them.

For more information or to schedule your free initial consultation, please contact us online or call (619) 342-8000 today.

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