By Julie Preciado & Blayne Soleymani-Pearson
Barran Liebman Law
Oregon law firm
On June 11, Governor Brown signed into law Oregon’s version of the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (“CROWN”) Act.” Oregon is the 12th state to adopt such a law since 2019. The CROWN Act expands Oregon’s protection against racial discrimination to include physical characteristics historically associated with race, including but not limited to:
- – natural hair;
- – hair texture;
- – hair types; and
- – protective hairstyles, meaning: hairstyle, hair color, or manner of wearing hair that includes, but is not limited to, braids, locs, and twists.
The CROWN Act may require changes to your employee dress-code and personal appearance policies. Dress-codes or policies which specifically prohibit the above-mentioned physical characteristics will now be in violation of the law. Furthermore, even if your dress-code or policy does not expressly prohibit any of the above characteristics, it may still violate the law if it has a disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected class.
What steps need to be taken? First, review your existing dress-code or personal appearance policies and employee handbooks for compliance with the CROWN Act. Second, train managers and supervisors that comments about certain hairstyles, hair textures, and more may now be the basis of a racial discrimination claim. Finally, review your practices to ensure your enforcement of dress-code policies or protocols does not create a disproportionate adverse impact on members of a protected class.
Employers should contact counsel with any questions or concerns regarding the CROWN Act. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2022, so there is time to review and implement new policies, if necessary.
For questions on compliance with these rules or other labor and employment matters, contact Barran Liebman attorney Julie Preciado at [email protected]
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