New Jersey recently banned discrimination based on an individual’s hairstyle under the CROWN Act. This means that it is not only illegal to prohibit particular hair traits/styles that are historically associated with race in the context of employment discrimination, but also in housing and school sectors (“in public spaces”). In addition to hair types and textures that are considered “protective hairstyles,” some specific hairstyles that were included as covered under the law are braids, locks, and twists.
The new mandate is part of the existing New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), and was passed as an amendment to NJLAD. It is also linked to Guidance that was released earlier in the year by the state, which provides some additional specificity on what employers and others cannot do, such as putting forth “professional appearance” requirements that have the effect of discriminating against certain hairstyles. Historically, this has been done to target Black employees with braids, and this can now be the subject of litigation thanks to the CROWN Act.
At McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C., our discrimination lawyers have an impressive track record of handling all discrimination cases and not only recovering substantial damages for victims of discrimination, but also assisting employers in preventing these unfortunate occurrences in the first place.
Employers should assume that any act of employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, disability, pregnancy, religion, and other categories now also applies to hairstyle. This means that employers must be careful not to take any of the following actions based on hairstyle:
- Demote, decrease hours, or deny promotions and raises
- Allow for or engage in harassment
- Refuse to hire
- Retaliate for a complaint or other reason
- Refuse certain positions that involve interacting with the public
The Law Does Not Only Apply to Employers
As attorneys who represent a range of employers who are seeking to prevent, investigate, and defend against discrimination claims, as well as employees who face discrimination, it is important to point out that this law is not limited to employers. In fact, it came about in response to an incident that involved a high school wrestler being forced to cut off his dreadlocks so that he could compete; it applies in school and housing contexts, as well.
Contact Our New Jersey Employment Discrimination Attorneys With Any Questions
Not only should employers review any and all policies and practices, as well as provide training to other employees (especially anyone in a supervisory position), but the same applies to certain individuals who work in schools, athletic competitions, and housing authorities. Contact our attorneys today to set up a free consultation and find out more about our services for both employers and employees.