EMPLOYMENT LAW NEWS

Vermont Joins Growing List of States to Implement CROWN Act Law, Effective July 1, 2024

By Dana Holle, GovDocs Associate Counsel
Employment Law and Compliance
Published May 23, 2024
Vermont Crown Act 2024 GovDocs

Vermont employers should review their dress codes and grooming policies to confirm they are in compliance with Vermont’s amended Fair Employment Practices Act.

Vermont is now in the books as the most recent state to pass its version of the CROWN Act.  

What Are CROWN Acts?

CROWN Acts are an ongoing employment law trend where several states are amending their discrimination laws and human rights acts to expand the definition of race to include hair protections. Accordingly, on April 24, 2024, Vermont Governor Phil Scott approved House Bill 363 (HB 363), which goes into effect on July 1, 2024.

More on Vermont’s CROWN Act

Under Vermont’s Fair Employment Practices Act (FEPA), it is unlawful for “any employer, employment agency, or labor organization to harass or discriminate against any individual because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, place of birth, crime victim status, or age or against a qualified individual with a disability.”  

HB 363 adds a clarifying definition of race to FEPA, which states the following: 

“Race” includes traits associated with or perceived to be associated with race, including hair type, hair texture, hairstyles, and protective hairstyles. As used in this subdivision, the term “protective hairstyles” includes hairstyles such as individual braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros, afro puffs, and other formations, as well as wigs, headwraps, and other head coverings. 

Vermont is among a growing list of states that are adding hairstyle protections to employment discrimination laws, including Michigan, Texas, and California, among others. Several cities and counties have also passed CROWN Act protections in the last several years, such as New York City back in 2019.

The Federal CROWN Act of 2024

In addition to this growing trend, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman introduced the federal CROWN Act of 2024 (H.R. 8191) in the House of Representatives on April 30, 2024. Other versions of the CROWN Act were previously blocked by the U.S. Senate in recent years, however, there may be more consideration given to the bill now that over twenty states have passed a CROWN Act.

Next Steps for Vermont Employers

With Vermont’s CROWN Act going into effect on July 1, 2024, employers should review their dress codes and grooming policies to confirm they are in compliance with Vermont’s amended Fair Employment Practices Act. They should also specifically evaluate any restrictions on certain hairstyles now protected under the state’s employment discrimination law and train supervisors and managers on the many changes to the dress code and grooming policy. 

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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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