On December 19, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the “Create Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act” (CROWN Act) to address discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, particularly focused on hair texture and style. The CROWN Act effectively codified prior guidance from the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR) clarifying how the DCR applies the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) to discrimination based on hairstyles. The NJLAD prohibits discrimination based on a number of characteristics including, race, national origin, sex and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations
New Jersey is now the third state to enact legislation banning hair discrimination. In July 2019, California amended its Fair Employment and Housing Act and its Education Code to clarify that race includes “hair texture and protective hairstyles,” including “braids, locks and twists.” Similarly, in July 2019, New York amended its civil rights and education laws to clarify that the existing definition of race includes “traits historically associated with race,” including “hair texture and protective hairstyles” such as “braids locks and twists.”
Employers with employees in New Jersey should review their current policies and make any necessary updates and ensure employees/supervisors are properly trained on company policies.
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