Connecticut Enacts New Anti-Discrimination Law Regarding Black Hairstyles
By: Stuart M. Katz
On March 4, 2021, Governor Lamont signed into law An Act Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair – known as the CROWN Act. This law expands the laws against discrimination based on race in Connecticut to specifically include “ethnic traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” For additional clarification, “protective hairstyles” is defined to include “wigs, headwraps and hairstyles such as individual braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros and afro puffs.” This law, advanced through the legislature during Black History Month, is intended “to help build a more equitable society,” according to Governor Lamont, who also noted that “[w]hen a Black man or woman shows up for a job interview or to work, they should never be judged on their hairstyle.”
Employers may need to amend their anti-discrimination policies to recognize this additional protection, and must educate those involved in the hiring process regarding the import and intent of the CROWN Act.
As employers consider specific updates to employee handbooks and policies, it is a good practice to periodically review all written policies to ensure that they are up to date and compliant with applicable law. At Cohen and Wolf, we are committed to keeping abreast of new developments and to providing timely updates, as well as advice tailored to the specific needs of our clients. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.