Governor Newsom recently signed a bill that would make California the first state to ban discrimination in the workplace and in public school based on natural hair.
The CROWN Act (“Creating A Respectful and Open Workplace”) clarifies the definition of “race” as applied under FEHA (“Fair Employment and Housing Act”), as well as the California Education Code. Under the CROWN Act, “race” will now include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” “Protective hairstyles” include styles such as braids, locks, and twists.
This new piece of legislation will make it unlawful for California employers and public schools to enforce ‘race neutral’ grooming policies that disproportionately affect persons of color.
The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Employers should ensure that any workplace grooming policies, including those contained in an employee handbook, comply with California’s new requirements related to employee hairstyles.
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