On July 3, 2019, California became the first state in the United States to ban employers from discriminating against employees and applicants based on their natural hairstyle. Codified at Government Code section 12926, the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (“CROWN Act”) works within the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) framework to tackle discriminatory workplace dress code and grooming policies that perpetuate societal norms of professionalism equating black hair as unprofessional.

The CROWN Act seeks to protect black applicants and employees from workplace dress code and grooming policies from workplace dress code and grooming policies prohibiting natural hair.  Specifically, the CROWN Act prohibits discrimination against braids, locks, and twists.  Notably, the CROWN Act emphasizes that afros are not the only natural presentation of black hair.   Before the California CROWN Act became law, federal courts considered afros as a protected trait within federal anti-discrimination law.  Stunningly, the law did not protect most natural hair.  As studies often show, people unfairly perceive natural hair as less professional than smooth hair, which has implications throughout life, including at work.

The CROWN Act seeks to protect natural hair in the workplace.  By explicitly including hair texture and natural hairstyles – braids, locks, and twists – in the FEHA, the CROWN Act accentuates anti-discrimination protections available to black applicants and employees that combat unfair workplace dress code and grooming policies.

If your employer has violated the California CROWN Act or the Fair Employment & Housing Act, contact Astanehe Law.  Astanehe Law has experience representing California employees who have suffered workplace discrimination.  Astanehe Law represents clients on a contingency fee basis.  Call us at (415) 226-7170 or email us at contact@astanehelaw.com.