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February 2023: Minnesota Governor Signs CROWN Act into Law

15 Feb


Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of Minnesota.

What happened?
On February 1, 2023, Governor Walz signed House File 37 (HF 37), also known as the “Minnesota Crown Act, into law which prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyles, adding Minnesota to the growing list of states to enact such legislation, commonly referred to as the “CROWN Act.”

What are the details?

Effective immediately, The Minnesota CROWN Act amends the MHRA to define “race” as including “traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.” Minnesota Statute Section 363A.03, subd. 36a. The amendment provides explicit protection from any adverse employment action (discipline, failure to promote, termination, harassment, etc.) due to an employee’s hair texture or style associated with the person’s race.

In tandem with Governor Tim Walz’s signing the CROWN Act into law, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights issued a fact sheet, “Preventing Hair Discrimination,” explaining when the law applies and providing examples of hair discrimination that would violate the CROWN Act. In the fact sheet, the Department explains that the CROWN Act prohibits hair discrimination not only in employment but also in education, housing, and a variety of other settings—such as restaurants, banks, schools, and stores—where a person is purchasing goods or services. The Department’s examples of unlawful hair discrimination include discharging an employee for wearing hair braids, forcing a student to shave their head, or denying a person entry to a restaurant because of how they braid or twist their hair.     

For more information, please see the links below:

Minnesota Crown Act

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and their policies to ensure they are broad enough to prohibit discrimination based on traits associated with race. Employers should also train their managers and human resources staff on these 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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