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New Jersey Legislators Taking Lead on Federal Bill Banning Natural Hair Discrimination

New Jersey Legislators Taking Lead on Federal Bill Banning Natural Hair Discrimination

A bill that passed the U.S. House of Representatives would, if enacted into law, create federal protections for people with natural hair textures and hairstyles. This would prohibit the mistreatment that many Black workers have endured from employers. Two members of Congress from New Jersey are leaders in this effort.

The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, referred to as the “CROWN Act,” is sponsored in the House by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of Mercer County and in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker. Language within the bill notes that hair, like skin color, has historically served as a basis for racial and ethnic discrimination against people of African descent. Some of the particular hairstyles that have led to biased treatment according to the bill are locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots and Afros.

Upon passage, the bill would bar discrimination based on an individual’s hair texture or hairstyle that is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin in:

  • Any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance
  • Housing programs
  • Public accommodations affecting interstate commerce
  • Employment practices
  • The legal rights to make and enforce contracts, sue, be parties, give evidence and otherwise secure persons and property

Violations of the CROWN Act would be treated in the same manner as existing cases where someone is discriminated against because of their status within a legally protected group.

Even if the CROWN Act does not become law, it might be possible for discrimination lawyers to argue that mistreatment of people based on hair texture and hairstyle are pretexts for racial and/or national origin discrimination, which are already illegal under both federal and state law. There may be situations where an employer claims that a particular hairstyle is an impediment to performing job duties safely. For example, long braids could get caught in certain types of machinery. In these cases, the employer could be required to make a reasonable accommodation, such as providing a hair covering.

If you suspect that you are the victim of any kind of employment discrimination in New Jersey, Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in Hackensack is ready to help. You may schedule a consultation by contacting us online or calling us at 551-245-8894.

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Neil H. Deutsch

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

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Diane Englander Peyser

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

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Debra M. McGarvey

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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