In December 2019, Gov. Murphy signed into law the new Crown Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act) which includes discrimination based upon “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles, such as braids, locks and twists.” This law, arising from incident of an Atlantic County student wrestler who was forced by an official to cut his dreadlocks, will now make it unlawful to discriminate against an employee for the nature and style of their hair.
NJ is one of only three states in the nation which prohibit such discrimination. The law is immediately in effect and is immediately enforceable.
As an employer, you must take steps to evaluate your handbook policies and train your workers and managers to ensure that they are not violating the CROWN Act. This is particularly important in medical offices and other workplaces where employee appearance may be an issue. The employer must be particularly careful to ensure that their grooming and dress-code policies are neutrally written and evenly applied regardless of race or hair type. This new law, which amends the Law Against Discrimination, applies not just in the context of employment but also in housing, schools, and all places of public accommodation.
This is a good opportunity for employers to reevaluate their employment policies and handbooks to ensure compliance with the many employment law changes in 2019 and to ensure that all employees, from executives to managers down to your part time and entry level employees are all trained on this new law and its scope.
Please note that the content of this communication is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have questions about the applicability of this content to any specific fact pattern, please contact Ayesha Hamilton, Esq. to seek legal advice.
Disclaimer: The statements contained in the Blog are for informational purposes only and are not designed to provide specific legal advice to any specific individual and/or entity.