November 27, 2019

On November 6, 2019, the Montgomery County Council passed the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act) Act.  The CROWN Act amends certain Chapters of the Montgomery County Code to prohibit discrimination based on “certain protective hairstyles.”  Among other chapters, the Act amends Chapter 27, Human Rights and Civil Liberties, by adding two new definitions as follows: 

Protected hairstyle includes hairstyles such as braids, locks, afros, curls, and twists. 

Race includes traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protected hairstyles. 

As a result, in Montgomery County, “race,” by definition, includes the characteristic of hair texture and having a protected hairstyle.  Employers with a work force in Montgomery County should look at personnel policies and practices to make sure that dress or appearance codes do not prohibit protected hairstyles.  Employers should also train employees, especially managers, supervisors, and hiring personnel not to discriminate against an applicant or employee based upon “natural hairstyles.”

The Act becomes effective February 6, 2020.

Susan Richards Salen is a Shareholder and member of the Rees Broome, PC Employment Law Practice Group.  Please contact Ms. Salen at should you have questions regarding this Employment Law Alert.

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