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California has long been a pioneer in civil rights laws. 2020 will be no exception, as an important employment discrimination law has already taken effect as of January 1. The CROWN Act expands employment discrimination to include discrimination based upon natural hairstyles. If you have experienced discrimination in the workplace, contact an experienced California employment law attorney at the Mara Law Firm. We have helped many California workers protect their legal right to be free of discrimination in employment. Call (619) 234-2833 today to schedule your free consultation. 

What is the CROWN Act? 

CROWN stands for “Creating Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural hair.” Its proponents advocated for California state law protections for natural hair after a variety of troubling incidents across the nation. USA Today reports that in Florida, a six-year-old boy was denied entry to his school because he wore locks. In New Jersey, a high school wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks off at the wrestling ringside before he was allowed to compete. Advocates worked to get a bill passed here in California that was signed into law in January 2019. It became effective on January 1, 2020. 

The text of the CROWN Act expands existing workplace hair protections in California. In addition to the Afro, other “natural hairstyles” are identified for protection. These include twists, locks, and braids. The text also clearly states the State’s goals in opposing definitions of “professionalism” that are based in European features or mannerisms, and that exclude traits such as dark skin and curly or kinky hair. The protections also extend to students by amending the California Education Code. 

What does this mean for California employees? 

Federal law prohibits employers from discrimination against both applicants and employees based upon their race. In California, this racial discrimination now includes acts by an employer designed to limit natural hairstyles. In addition to discriminating against job applicants based upon a natural hairstyle, California employers are also prohibited from enacting grooming policies that limit natural hairstyles. This protects both prospective and existing employees. 


Employers who violate this new law are subject to the same penalties that exist under state law for other forms of racial discrimination in employment. It is important to understand that federal law still does not recognize discrimination based on natural hair as racial discrimination. This means that federal employment discrimination claims under the Civil Rights Act cannot be based on natural hairstyles. 

Experienced employment discrimination attorneys for all California cases

Employment discrimination can be a very difficult thing to prove. Employers often hire their own attorneys to try to cover up their discrimination or pass it off as an innocent misunderstanding. Don’t let this happen. The experienced employment discrimination attorneys at the Mara Law Firm can defend your right to be free from discrimination in the workplace based upon a natural hairstyle. We have helped many employees prove that they were victims of discrimination, and we will fight hard for you, too. Call (619) 234-2833 today to schedule your free consultation. 


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