What is the CROWN Act in California?

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crown act california

On July 3, 2019, the governor of California signed the CROWN Act, which officially prohibits employers and schools from enforcing “race-neutral” grooming policies restricting employees’ natural hairstyles. If you would like more information on what this means for employers who want to comply with the provisions of the CROWN Act, please read on, then contact an experienced Los Angeles discrimination defense attorney. Some questions you may have include:

What does the CROWN Act do in California?

Introduced by State Senator Holly Mitchell and passed unanimously in both chambers of the California Legislature by June 27, 2019, SB 188, also known as the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act, prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles. The act defines “race” for certain specific purposes to include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Ethnic group identification
  • Ethnic background

What happens if a California employer does not comply with the CROWN Act?

If you do not comply with the CROWN Act, you will face many of the same consequences as those outlined in the Golden State’s existing Law Against Discrimination. To that end, you may have to pay the following financial penalties to the plaintiff:

  • Equitable relief
  • Recovery for economic losses
  • Compensatory damages
  • Punitive damages
  • Attorney fees

How do you ensure your company complies with the CROWN Act?

You may start by reviewing your company’s dress code and hygiene policies, especially if you have updated the employee handbook to reflect the legally required changes. To understand these new regulations and avoid this type of discrimination, managers and supervisors will need additional training. If they have not received said training, you might want to offer them and other employees some training on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, along with any harassment and discrimination training programs.

How do you know if you are violating the CROWN Act?

That will depend on a case-by-case basis. However, your company’s policies should follow these general guidelines:

Unlawful hygiene and dress code policies:

  • Requirements about shaving
  • Restrictions on hair length or styles
  • Requirements that are different for men and women

Lawful hygiene and dress code policies:

  • Restrictions that are necessary to maintain safety
  • Appropriate clothing for a professional work environment
  • Restrictions on clothing that displays offensive content
  • Process for how to request an accommodation
  • Where to go with questions about these policies

A skilled Los Angeles County, California employment attorney can answer any further questions you may have, so please do not hesitate to give our firm a call today.


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