May 05, 2021

The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act movement in the US aims to prohibit discrimination based on natural hair texture or hairstyles that are normally associated with race, such as braids, locs, twists, curls, cornrows, afros, head wraps or bantu knots. The official campaign of the CROWN Act is led by the CROWN Coalition. Nine states have already passed CROWN Acts; many others are considering legislation, and federal legislation is also being considered. To help employers ensure their employee handbooks and appearance policies are nondiscriminatory and in compliance with federal, state and local laws, this roundup provides links to federal and state resources from organizations, government websites, third-party resources and news articles.

Federal

Existing federal law prohibits some forms of hair discrimination as a type of racial, religious or national origin discrimination, but some federal courts have narrowly construed these protections. The CROWN Act (HR 5309), which banned discrimination based on hair textures and hairstyles that are commonly associated with a particular race or national origin, was passed in the House of Representatives in September 2020 during the last congressional session and received in the Senate — but did not pass. In March 2021, the CROWN Act legislation bill was reintroduced in the House and Senate.

States

Currently, nine states have enacted CROWN legislation (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington), and numerous other states are currently considering the legislation.

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Maryland

New Jersey

New York

Virginia

Washington

Stephanie Rosseau
by Stephanie Rosseau

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group

Fiona Webster
by Fiona Webster

Principal, Mercer’s Law & Policy Group


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