Michigan CROWN Act: Hair Discrimination Law

By Kris Janisch
Published July 25, 2023

Michigan CROWN Act Hair Discrimination Law

As a reminder, the Michigan CROWN Act went into effect immediately following its passage last month.

The Michigan CROWN Act is now in effect.

Lawmakers last month passed the legislation, with Michigan becoming the latest in a growing list of states to pass a hair discrimination law.

The governor signed the bill — which amends the state’s anti-discrimination statute (the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act) — in mid-June 2023. It immediately went into effect.

Aimed at preventing discrimination against African Americans (women especially), CROWN stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The campaign was founded by Dove, the National Urban League, Color of Change and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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Michigan CROWN Act

The Michigan CROWN Act updates the definition of race under the state’s anti-discrimination law to include protective hairstyles.

As with similar CROWN laws across the country, the legislation adds hair protections for employees. In Michigan, its definition of “race” was updated to include hair texture and protective hairstyles. Those protective hairstyles include but are not limited to:

  • Braids
  • Locks (sometimes spelled locs)
  • Twists

Lastly, the Michigan CROWN Act is the third amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination law this year. In the spring of 2023, lawmakers added provisions regarding:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Gender identity
  • Gender expression

States with CROWN Laws: Hair Discrimination

CROWN Laws in the U.S.

California was the first state to pass a CROWN law in 2019. Since then, several other states have followed suit.

Requiring minor language tweaks to existing statutes, these laws are relatively easy to pass and have been embraced by a broad spectrum of legislators. Even conservative Texas enacted a CROWN law earlier this year.

The movement celebrated National CROWN Day on July 3, and advocates continue to push for such bills to be introduced. According to the organization, there are only six states that have not introduced CROWN legislation, though a federal bill did not gain traction.

In Delaware, which passed its CROWN law in 2021, a study was cited in a synopsis:

  • Black women are 80 percent more likely to change their natural hair to conform to social norms or expectations at work
  • Black women are 50 percent more likely to be sent home (or know of another Black woman who was sent home) from work because of her hair
  • Black women are 30 percent more likely to be told of workplace appearance policies

Along with Michigan, several other states have passed CROWN laws, including:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Lastly, in addition to these states, a number of smaller jurisdictions have passed CROWN laws, about 50.

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Employers with locations in Michigan should review their internal policies and handbooks — as well as any diversity training programs or dress codes — to ensure they are aligned with the new law.

As a reminder, the Michigan CROWN Act went into effect immediately following its passage last month.

First introduced in California in January 2019 and signed into law later that year the first CROWN Act expanded the definition of race in employment, housing and education.

This Employment Law News blog is intended for market awareness only, it is not to be used for legal advice or counsel.

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