Hairstyle Discrimination in California

It’s been a little over a year since California Governor Gavin Newson signed the Crown Act. This landmark act was the first in the nation to prevent employers and school officials from discriminating against people based on their natural hair. The law officially took effect on January 1, 2020.

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a variety of characteristics including race. The Crown Act further defined “race” to include “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” “Protective hairstyles” is further defined to include common African American hairstyles including braids, Afros, dreadlocks, and twists.

What Does This Mean For Employees?

Luckily for employees, the Crown act applies to a large part of the workforce. The law applies to public schools, private employers with more than 5 employers as well as public employers. However, the law does not apply to religious organizations or non-profit employers. The law prevents employers from creating and enforcing dress code and grooming policies that discriminate against natural hairstyles in the workplace.

If you have been forced to change your natural hairstyle by your employer, you may have a discrimination case. Contact the legal team at Davtyan Law Firm today to learn more about your options.

The Back Story

The movement towards the acceptance of natural hairstyles gained speed in December 2018 when a high school athlete in New Jersey was forced to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his wrestling match. Two years earlier, the Eleventh Circuit ruled that an employer’s policy against dreadlocks was not discriminatory after an African American woman was fired from her customer service position for refusing to cut off her locs. Over the years, more and more lawmakers have taken up the cause, urging cities and states to stop these practices.

“Workplace dress code and grooming policies that prohibit natural hair, including Afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter black applicants and burden or punish black employees than any other group,” according to the Crown Act.

The Crown Act was authored by Senator Holly Mitchell from Los Angeles. “Crown” is an acronym for creating a respectful and open workplace for natural hair. Since the Crown Act was passed in California, a few other jurisdictions have passed similar laws including New York City, Colorado, Maryland, Washington, New Jersey, Virginia and Cincinnati, Ohio. Bills have been introduced in a variety of other cities and states throughout the country as well.

Davtyan Law Firm Can Help

The legal team at Davtyan Law Firm focus on eliminating discrimination in the workplace by helping employees navigate the legal field. If your employer has a discriminatory dress code or hairstyle policy in place, call Davtyan Law Firm to discuss your options.

Based in California, Davtyan Law Firm focuses exclusively on employment law and protecting employees’ rights. The legal team handles a broad range of employment disputes, including wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wage and hour issues.


For more information about the law firm in Glendale, CA, visit Davtyan Law Firm on the web at The office can be reached by phone at (818) 275-5799.

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Based in California, we focus exclusively on employment law, protecting employees' rights. We handle a broad range of employment disputes including wrongful termination, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour issues, among others.

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