August 2022: Massachusetts Governor Signs CROWN Act Banning Hairstyle-Based Discrimination

01 Aug

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

What happened?|
On July 26, 2022, Governor Baker signed Bill H.4554 into law, which creates the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (“CROWN”) Act that bans discrimination based upon natural and protective hairstyles in workplaces, school districts, and certain school-related organizations in the state of Massachusetts.

What are the details? 
Effective immediately, the CROWN Act bans discrimination in the workplace, schools, and places of public accommodation based on a person’s hairstyle, as “historically associated with race.” In particular, the CROWN Act amends the Commonwealth’s anti-discrimination statute, Chapter 151B, by defining “race,” a characteristic protected under the law, to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, hair length, and protective hairstyles.”

A “protective hairstyle” is defined to include “hairstyles such as braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots, and other formations.”

The law tasks the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination – which enforces the anti-discrimination statute – with creating rules, regulations, recommendations, and policies relating to its purpose.

For more information, please see the links below:

Bill H.4554

Chapter 151B

Article 1 – Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links above and ensure that their supervisory employees are cautioned not to make hiring, disciplinary, or other employment decisions based on an employee’s protected hairstyle.

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