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California Expands anti-discrimination law based on employee hair textures and styles

Posted on December 9, 2019

California is taking a step toward equality on all levels by passing the CROWN Act, effective January 1, 2020. The new statute adds an amendment to the existing anti-discrimination CA Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which specifically bans employers from discriminating against employees who wish to wear an Afro, braids, locks and twist. This protective hairstyles & hair texture amendment now protects individuals who wish to wear natural hairstyles in the workplace.

Bridging the Gap

There have been many recent instances of students being singled out because of their natural hair, or ethnic hairstyles that have been deemed “unacceptable” by a particular school. Although this law mainly benefits African American employees who wear natural hairstyles, it also protects students through amendments to the California Education Code. In fact, The CROWN Act prohibits schools and employers from enforcing policies which disparately impact the black community. This also provides leverage for employees who have gone through adverse employment action cause to take action for being an object of discrimination.

Human Resources departments must be vigilant in ensuring management knows and understands not only the law, but the ramifications that will ensue if violated. This means certain things must take place:

Inform management

A special meeting should be called with all C-suite and other management levels to train them on the new law. The training should be in-depth, addressing instances of hiring discrimination, snide remarks regarding hairstyles, and language on social media and any other external platforms that could be a potential risk for the organization.

Inform employees

A company-wide communication should go out informing employees of the law, advising employees to contact their manager or Human Resources with questions. For those employees who wish to take action against a manager, they should immediately inform Human Resources.

Review policies

Every internal policy should be revisited and revised if needed, along with any written communications within the company. Every employee handbook, website and intranet should reflect the new policies to cover any potential liability.

By being proactive in disseminating this information and training employees prior to the law going into effect, companies will start the new year in compliance and enhance the company’s culture on diversity and inclusion.

Whenever you require professional Human Resources or Payroll guidance to navigate the ever-changing landscape of California and Federal Employment Laws & Regulations, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

eqHR Solutions provides professional, tactical and strategic human resources support; ADP payroll product implementation/training and payroll processing services for businesses throughout Southern California.