On June 15, 2023, Governor Whitmer signed into law the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (“CROWN”) Act to outlaw hairstyle discrimination in education and employment, as well as housing and public accommodations. The CROWN Act amends Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act by expanding the definition of “race” to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles . . . ‘protective hairstyles’ includes, but is not limited to, such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.”
Employers are well advised to re-evaluate their grooming policies to ensure legal compliance. Under the new law, it would almost certainly be unlawful for an employer to prohibit braids, locks, twists, and other similar hairstyles. And even a neutral grooming policy could be legally suspect if it has the practical effect of banning hairstyles historically associated with race.
The CROWN Act went into effect immediately upon signing. To avoid liability, this would be a good time for employers to make sure their handbooks are up to date and provide proper training. Please contact Wright Beamer at 248.477.6300 if you have questions or need to schedule a review of your company’s current policies.