What Is the CROWN Act?

Submitted by Elizabeth on Thu, 09/07/2023 - 16:16

Racial discrimination in the workplace can take many forms. One such form is hair discrimination.

Individuals of certain races may naturally have hairstyles that conflict with what some employers consider “professional.” If an employer objects to an employee’s natural hair, however, they may be committing a form of racial discrimination under the guise of promoting general workplace policies.

The CROWN Act is beginning to put a stop to this. Although not currently a federal law, the CROWN Act is now law in 23 states.

What Is The CROWN Act? 

“Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” is what the acronym CROWN stands for. In states that have adopted the CROWN Act, employers as well as those who provide access to educational opportunities may not engage in hair discrimination that is race-based. According to the CROWN Act’s official website, such parties specifically may not engage in discrimination against someone “because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including braids, locs, twists or bantu knots.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced the CROWN Act to the U.S. House of Representatives as H.R. 2116 where it passed on March 18, 2022. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) attempted to get the CROWN Act passed in the Senate in 2022, but was unsuccessful. Senator Booker or another lawmaker may reintroduce the CROWN Act during a 2023 legislative session to once again attempt to make the CROWN Act a federal law.

What Is The Importance of the CROWN Act? 

Hair discrimination is a more significant issue than some may realize. Consider the following information from one recent study: 

  • Various parties are approximately 2.5 times more likely to consider a Black woman’s hair “unprofessional” when compared to a white woman’s hair
  • About 66% of Black women will change their hair for a job interview
  • Of the women who change their hair for job interviews, about 44% of them will change curly hair to straight hair

Research also indicates that Black women who maintain their natural hairstyles are more likely than Black women with straightened hair to experience microaggressions in the workplace. Because one’s natural hair may correspond with their racial identity, it’s reasonable to conclude that hair discrimination in the workplace represents a form of racial discrimination. The CROWN Act’s purpose is to address this form of racial discrimination that may have previously gone unacknowledged.

What States Have Adopted The CROWN Act? 

As of this writing, states that have adopted the CROWN Act are as follows:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York 
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee 
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Even in states where the CROWN Act is not a state-wide law, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and others, there are several cities where the CROWN Act is law. Research the status of the law in your state (and city) for more information if you don’t live in a state on the above list.

Get Help With Your Discrimination Claim 

Past cases indicate employers sometimes do commit hair discrimination by, for example, firing employees who refuse to change their natural hairstyles or not offering jobs to candidates who refuse to change their hair. If you believe you’ve been the victim of this form of racial discrimination in the workplace, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit.

Strongly consider reviewing your case with an employment lawyer to discuss your legal options. Take the Free Case Evaluation on this page today to learn more about what a racial discrimination attorney can do for you. 

Additional Resources 

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