United States: Labor & Employment Alert >> California And New York Ban Workplace Hair Discrimination, While New Jersey And Michigan Propose The Same

The New York City Commission on Human Rights published Legal Enforcement Guidance prohibiting discriminatory workplace hair policies in February.

In June, bills were introduced in the New Jersey legislature prohibiting discrimination based on hair type, texture or style. This month, both California and New York State signed into law legislation expressly prohibiting workplace policies that disproportionately disadvantage people of color based on their hair. A similar bill was recently introduced in Michigan.

California and New York Ban Discriminatory Hair Policies
California has enacted the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (the California CROWN Act) amending the California Fair Employment and Housing Act by expanding the definition of race to include traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and “protective hairstyles,” thereby prohibiting workplace discrimination based on those traits. “Protective hairstyles” include braids, locks and twists.

New York also enacted a nearly identical law expanding the New York Human Rights Law’s definition of race (the New York Act). The California CROWN Act becomes effective January 1, 2020, and the New York law has been effective since its enactment on July 12, 2019.

A California Senate Judiciary Committee’s Executive Summary makes clear that the California CROWN Act does not prohibit grooming policies in workplaces, “[s]o long as those rules are imposed for valid, non-discriminatory reasons, have no disparate impact and are uniformly applied.” A race-neutral requirement that hair be “neat and clean,” on its face, does not violate the statute.

The California CROWN Act and the New York Act also protect traits historically associated with race other than hair, although the laws do not provide examples of those traits. Additionally, the California and New York laws amend those states’ education laws to prohibit discrimination based on traits historically associated with race in the schools covered by those laws.

New York City Legal Enforcement Guidance on Race Discrimination on the Basis of Hair
The New York City Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) released Legal Enforcement Guidance on Race Discrimination on the Basis of Hair (the Hair Guidance). Noting that hairstyle and haircut are personal choices often inseparable from identity, the Commission stated that employer “grooming or appearance policies that ban, limit or otherwise restrict natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people” (defined as including “those who identify as African, African American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Latin-x/a/o or otherwise having African or Black ancestry”), including twists, braids, cornrows, Afros, Bantu knots, fades and/or locks, are generally prohibited under the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL).

Under the Hair Guidance, policies that restrict those hairstyles in the workplace violate the NYCHRL, because such policies specifically disadvantage black people and contribute to discrimination through stereotyping. The Commission noted that any workplace restriction on hair that is linked to a specific racial, ethnic or cultural group would typically violate the NYCHRL.

According to the Hair Guidance, the NYCHRL also prohibits:

  • Requiring employees to change their hair to conform to certain standards (for example, by straightening it);
  • Limiting the distance hair can extend from the scalp (and thereby placing restrictions on Afros);
  • Enforcing grooming or appearance policies only against a group protected by the NYCHRL, even if those policies do not target hair associated with a particular group;
  • Harassing, placing conditions on or discriminating against employees due to aspects of their appearance associated with race (for example, turning down “a Black applicant with cornrows because her hairstyle does not fit the ‘image’ the employer is trying to project for sales representatives”); and
  • Other restrictions on hair associated with black people.

Employers who seek to place restrictions on hair due to a legitimate health or safety concern must consider alternatives (such as hair ties or hairnets) before proposing such restrictions. The NYCHRL’s provisions also extend to places of public accommodation, such as schools.

Action Steps
Under the Hair Guidance, NYC employers should examine their workplace standards with an eye to making sure they are inclusive, non-discriminatory, and not disproportionately weighed against a protected group.

Updates in New Jersey and Michigan
In addition, New Jersey legislators introduced bills that closely resemble the California CROWN Act and the New York Act. The New Jersey bills would amend the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (which covers housing, employment and education) to include “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture, hair type and protective hairstyles,” including braids, locks and twists. If the New Jersey legislature passes these bills, they would be effective upon enactment.

On July 17, a Michigan legislator introduced a similar bill amending the Michigan Civil Rights Act to protect hair texture and protective styles as traits historically associated with race.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions