The anti-discrimination laws in California provide greater protections than federal laws. Now, California is the first state to prohibit discrimination based on an employee’s hairstyle. The new provision also applies to students in schools and goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
The Crown Act addresses social assumptions that natural black hairstyles, including braids, afros, locks, and twists, are “unprofessional” or “unruly.” The legislature believes that employees of all races and ethnicities should be able to wear natural hairstyles and not be limited in their educational or professional success. No longer should someone feel required to use chemicals, straighteners, or other tools to alter their natural hair in order to feel qualified for a job or program.
While hairstyle discrimination has long been an issue for many people, the matter came to national attention when a young black student was forced to cut off his locks to participate in an athletic competition. New York City then banned hairstyle discrimination, and California is the first to pass such legislation statewide. Other states are considering similar proposals.
Prohibited employment actions that are based on hairstyles include:
If an employee complains of possible hairstyle discrimination, an employer may not retaliate against that employee with any type of adverse employment action. Employers should be ready to implement strict anti-discrimination policies when it comes to hairstyles as soon as possible. If they fail to do so, companies could face liability to victims of discrimination.
The Yudien Law Firm, P.C., helps both employees and employers when it comes to discrimination claims and other employment law matters. Call us at 925.472.0600 or contact us online to discuss any concerns with an experienced Walnut Creek employment attorney.