Minnesota CROWN Act: Hair Discrimination Law

By Kris Janisch
Published Jan. 31, 2023

Minnesota CROWN Act

In Minnesota, the CROWN Act passed both chambers and awaits the signature of Gov. Tim Walz. He says he intends to sign it.

A Minnesota CROWN Act looks likely, after the state legislature this month sent the bill to the governor, who said he intends to sign it.

CROWN laws, which bar employment discrimination based on hairstyles typically associated with Black people, have become more common lately.

The acronym CROWN generally stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.

In Minnesota, the CROWN Act passed both chambers and awaits the signature of Gov. Tim Walz. He says he intends to sign it.

UPDATE: Feb. 1, 2023

Minnesota CROWN Act

The Minnesota CROWN Act mirrors many of those across the U.S.

If passed, the law would amend the state’s Minnesota Human Rights Act to include discrimination based on “traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and hair styles such as braids, locs and twists.”

States with Hair Discrimination Laws

Minnesota calls its human rights act one of the nation’s strongest, and prohibits discrimination in a number of areas, including:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Public accommodations
  • Public services
  • Education
  • Credit
  • Business based on protected class, such as: race, religion, disability, national origin, sex, marital status, familial status, age, sexual orientation and gender identity

Once the governor signs the Minnesota CROWN Act, employers will have to ensure compliance with hairstyles as it relates to race.

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Should Minnesota move forward with its law, it would join about 20 other states with hair discrimination laws. California, as might be expected, was the first to enact CROWN legislation in 2019.

Employers should also note that there are variations among these laws. An Illinois bill originally was meant for protection in schools only, but there as in amendment to cover workplaces. And in Virginia, its law does not specifically address hiring practices.

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.

Officials behind the effort often cite the challenges for Black women and how their hairstyles — including locs, cornrows, twists, braids, and Bantu knots — can be met with adverse actions at work:

  • A Black woman is 80 percent more likely to change her natural hair to meet social norms or expectations at work
  • Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home or know of a Black woman sent home from the workplace because of her hair

CROWN laws, or those inspired by the initiative, have been enacted in several states, including:

  • California (2019)
  • New York (2019)
  • New Jersey (2019)
  • Virginia (2020)
  • Colorado (2020)
  • Washington (2020)
  • Maryland (2020)
  • Connecticut (2021)
  • Delaware (2021)
  • New Mexico (2021)
  • Nebraska (2021)
  • Nevada (2021)
  • Oregon (2021)
  • Illinois (2021)
  • Maine (2022)
  • Tennessee (2022)
  • Louisiana (2022)
  • Massachusetts (2022)

Lastly, though CROWN laws are gaining momentum in states across the country, a federal CROWN Act stalled in the U.S. Senate in December 2022.

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Employers with locations in the Land of 10,000 Lakes should keep an eye out for the governor’s signature.

Of course, in preparation for the law, employers may want to review their internal policies to ensure compliance with the Minnesota CROWN Act, which will likely take effect soon.

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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