In an important step for California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 188 into law on July 3, 2019. SB 188 or also known as, the CROWN ACT, “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair,” clarifies the definition of race for the workplace and educational institutions to include, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles, and defines protective hairstyles. While certain states have proposed legislation, California is likely the first state to protect employees from racial discrimination based on hairstyle. New York City banned hair discrimination earlier this year.

SB 188 is focused on addressing workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including afros, braids, twists, and locks, which could potentially have a disparate impact on Black individuals. Section 1(d) of the law states that workplace dress and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair “are more likely to deter Black applicants” than any other group.

Employers can still generally maintain dress and grooming policies which require employees to secure their hair for safety and hygienic reasons in accordance with the law. SB 188 also makes it clear that employers can maintain dress and grooming policies, so long as they are “valid and non-discriminatory,” and do not have a “disparate impact.” See Governor Newsom Press Release.

California employers should review their dress and grooming policies for issues that might relate to the CROWN Act or other compliance issues. If you have any questions regarding the scope or impact of SB 188, please contact Jonathan A. Siegel or the Jackson Lewis attorney you normally work with.

Print:
EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn
Photo of Jonathan A. Siegel Jonathan A. Siegel

Jonathan A. Siegel is one of the founding Principals of the Orange County, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He practices before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, state and federal agencies and courts.

Mr. Siegel also provides advice and…

Jonathan A. Siegel is one of the founding Principals of the Orange County, California, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He practices before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, National Labor Relations Board, state and federal agencies and courts.

Mr. Siegel also provides advice and counsel regarding labor and employment law with respect to various issues ranging from wage and hour law, reduction in force, WARN Act, discipline, leave management and harassment and discrimination issues. Mr. Siegel defends employers regarding different varieties of wrongful termination and discrimination claims.

Mr. Siegel has represented management in union organizing drives and regularly defends employers in unfair labor practice proceedings as well as in collective bargaining and arbitrations. He also has extensive experience conducting wage and hour preventive audits. He conducts single location and multi-location audits for employers. The scope of such audits can range from examining specific issues, i.e., exempt status under federal law and California, to comprehensive FLSA and California Labor Code audits. Mr. Siegel has conducted audits for a wide range of industries including, but not limited to manufacturing, retail, transportation, various service industries, defense contractors and healthcare.

Mr. Siegel regularly speaks on a variety of topics including wage and hour, harassment/discrimination, national and California employment trends, Workers’ Compensation, EEO, managing leaves of absence under FMLA and state leave laws and union avoidance. He has moderated numerous programs and is featured as a keynote speaker for several different organizations.