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Massachusetts joins Growing List of States with CROWN Act

On July 26, 2022, Massachusetts’ Governor, Charlie Baker, signed into law the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (the “CROWN Act”). With this signing, the law went into immediate effect and makes Massachusetts the 18th state to enact such a law joining Alaska (pending), California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington.

The CROWN Act expands Massachusetts definition of discrimination to now include prohibition on race discrimination based on one’s natural and protective hair, which includes hair texture, hair type, hair length, and protective hairstyles.

Unlike many of the other states which have enacted CROWN Act legislation de novo, Massachusetts’ law is an expansion of the protections passed in 2019 to protect individuals from being denied educational opportunities because of their natural hair styles. This new law expands those protections to include prohibition against discrimination in employment settings.

Massachusetts’ CROWN Act prohibits denial of employment and educational opportunities at work and schools based on one’s “natural or protective hairstyle” including “hair texture, hair type and hairstyles, which shall include, but not limited to, natural and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots, hair coverings, and other formations.” Employment includes any adverse employment action against employees or applicants.

Massachusetts employers should take the time to review their existing employee handbooks and related policies to ensure compliance.

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560