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Lexington, Kentucky Passes its Own Natural Hair Discrimination Ordinance

26 Jun

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Update Applicable to:

All employers with workers who perform work in Lexington, Kentucky

What happened?

On May 9, 2023, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council unanimously passed the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or C.R.O.W.N., ordinance, which would ban race-based hair discrimination of certain hair styles — such as braids, locs, twists or Bantu Knots.

What are the details?

Like the cities of Frankfort, Louisville, and Covington, Kentucky, which are the only other cities in Kentucky to have passed their own versions of the CROWN Act, Lexington has followed suit.

For more information, please see the links below:

Ordinance

Article 1, Article 2

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the contents of the ordinance above and take the following steps given by the Littler law firm to ensure compliance:

  • Review and update dress codes and grooming policies to ensure that they are both (1) clearly connected to the company’s business interests and (2) inclusive of hair texture and hairstyles connected to racial and ethnic identity, as well as religion and gender identity.
  • Employers may require professional appearance in the workplace but should refrain from completely banning or restricting particular hairstyles. For instance, employers should avoid instituting policies:

    • Specifically prohibiting twists, locs, braids, cornrows, Afros, Bantu knots, or fades, which are styles commonly “associated with Black people.”
    • Requiring employees to alter the state of their hair to conform to the company’s appearance standards, including having to straighten or relax hair (i.e., through the use of chemicals or heat).
    • Banning hair that extends a certain number of inches from the scalp, thereby limiting Afros.
    • Restricting employees from holding specific roles (such as customer-facing positions) based on an employee’s or applicant’s hairstyle.
  • In the case of health and safety concerns, employers should aim to implement non-discriminatory measures (such as hairnets or hair ties) and should identify options that will accommodate various hair textures and styles. Employers should ensure that dress codes and grooming policies are applied consistently. 
  • Train employees, especially supervisors, managers, and anyone who makes hiring decisions, on the organization’s dress and grooming policies, as well as their EEO policies.

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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