The City of Covington has joined seven states to pass the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”. The Covington Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to pass the Act.
The ordinance forbids race-based hair discrimination for employment or educational opportunities because of hair texture, hairstyles, and protective hair coverings.
The Crown Act was a response to a 2014 court decision where the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued an employer on behalf of an African-American female applicant whose job offer was rescinded after she refused to cut off her dreadlocks. The employer asserted that the applicant’s dreadlocks violated their personal grooming policy, which required hairstyles to “reflect a business professional image” and prohibited “excessive hairstyles.”
The federal district court dismissed the EEOC’s complaint, holding that a hairstyle constitutes a “mutable characteristic” which is not afforded Title VII protection.
Since 2014, seven states have passed the CROWN Act, including, California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Washington, and Maryland as well as the City of Cincinnati, OH and Montgomery County, MD who also passed similar ordinances.
Employers in these areas should review grooming or dress code policies to be sure there is not language that would violate the CROWN Act. Any language that discusses excessive hairstyles or would violate the Act, should be carefully considered and amended.
More information on the Crown Act can be found at https://www.thecrownact.com/.
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