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How the CROWN Act gives workers more protective rights

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2023 | Employment Law

Employees have many rights. They have the right to equal pay, which helps ensure employees are paid a minimum wage and don’t become victims of wage theft. They have the right to report unethical work activities without facing retaliation. And, employees have the right to a safe workplace that doesn’t involve harassment and discrimination.

Discrimination rights protect many minorities. For example, workers cannot be discriminated against because they have a disability, because of their sexual orientation or because they believe in a different higher being — or no higher being at all. People of color also have a right to fair employment without facing stereotypes and biases. 

However, one topic of debate is whether workplace dress codes and grooming policies violate racial discrimination protection. The CROWN Act broadens the definition of racial discrimination and how dress codes target people’s hair. Here’s what you should know:

Giving people of color the right to style their hair

Hair is a part of people’s identity, especially for communities that have a deep history of hairstyles that are associated with their culture. Furthermore, many people of color have hair textures that they are born with. This makes it possible for people of color to style their hair into braids, locks, afros and Bantu knots.

In the past, many businesses claimed that these hairstyles were unseemly and inappropriate for workplaces. Dress codes were often updated to include how employees were allowed to style their hair. This often meant people of color were treating their hair with harmful and expensive chemicals to conform to grooming policies.

The CROWN Act, signed in 2019, sought to change how businesses enforce grooming policies, making it a form of discrimination to target an employee’s hair. As a result, many employees felt more included and recognized in their workplaces. However, this law has not completely eliminated racial discrimination. Many employees face discrimination in their workplace and often must find legal alternatives to make their place of work safer for themself and others.