Saba Zafar, Esq.
California was the first state to adopt the CROWN Act, in 2019. Since then, numerous other states have followed suit. Now, the federal government is (hopefully) on its way to enacting the federal version of the Creating a Respectful World for Natural Hair Act (the “CROWN Act” or the “Act”). On March 18, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2116 by a narrow majority.
The purpose of the Act is to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal treatment based on “hair texture or hairstyle, if that hair texture or that hairstyle is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin (including a hairstyle in which hair is tightly coiled or tightly curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, and Afros).”
Specifically, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the President, the Act would provide the following rights and protections based on an individual’s hair texture or hairstyle if the texture of that hairstyle is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin:
- Employment – make unlawful for an employer, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise discriminate against the individual;
- Equal Rights Under the Law – disallow the individual to be subjected to practices prohibited under 42 U.S.C. 1981;
- Federally Assisted Programs – disallow exclusion of the individual from participating in or receiving, or being subjected to discrimination under program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance;
- Housing Programs – disallow the individual to be subjected to discriminatory housing practices.
The Senate will consider the Act next. As many states have not enacted similar anti-natural hairstyle discrimination laws, if enacted, the CROWN Act would provide Federal protections and recourse for individuals nationwide.
Employers are advised to revisit their grooming policies, as well as any policies dealing with anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, and anti-retaliation to ensure compliance with the CROWN Act. If you have any questions about how this law may impact your business or need assistance preparing a new policy or employee handbook, please contact your attorneys at Bradley, Gmelich & Wellerstein LLP. We are here to help.
Saba Zafar, Esq. is Special Counsel in Bradley, Gmelich & Wellerstein LLP’s Employment Law Department. Saba has over a decade of experience as an attorney, primarily in employment law. Saba focuses her practice on providing strategic advice and counsel in all aspects of employment law and workplace matters, including drafting and implementation of HR policies and procedures, Employment Handbooks, and providing advice to clients on personnel issues as well as general business matters.
Prior to joining the firm, Saba was a Senior Counsel providing advice and counsel to mid-sized to large businesses on employment law compliance and day-to-day employment issues, including implementing policies and procedures, employee classifications, employment separations, managing and disciplining employees, and COVID-19 rules and regulations. Saba also handled a wide variety of employment matters in state and federal court, including cases involving wrongful termination, discrimination, and wage-related cases.
In her spare time, Saba has volunteered as a Mediator for the Department of Consumer Affairs and the Orange County Human Resources Department. She was also a Volunteer Tutor for Schools on Wheels, tutoring elementary school students on skid row in Los Angeles. Prior to practicing law, Saba was a Judicial Extern for the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District.
In her free time, Saba enjoys embarking on culinary adventures and catching up on new television shows.
Jaimee K. Wellerstein, Esq. is a Partner at Bradley, Gmelich & Wellerstein LLP, and the Head of the firm’s Employment Department. Jaimee concentrates her practice on representing employers in all aspects of employment law, including defense of wage and hour class actions, PAGA claims, discrimination, retaliation, harassment, wrongful discharge, misclassification, and other employment-related lawsuits. She also provides employment counseling and training in all of these areas.
Jaimee routinely represents employers in federal and state courts and in arbitration proceedings throughout the state, as well as at administrative proceedings before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, the United States Department of Labor, and other federal and state agencies.
Jaimee assists as a Legal Advisor to CALSAGA and is a member of ASIS International. She is rated AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest peer rating available. firstname.lastname@example.org