What Does the CROWN Act Do in New York State?

On July 3, 2019, the New York governor signed the CROWN Act, which stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” Specifically, this law officially prohibits employers and schools from enforcing “race-neutral” grooming policies restricting natural hairstyles. Continue reading to learn what this means for you and how an experienced New York discrimination lawyer at Bell Law Group can help.

What is the CROWN Act in New York State?

The CROWN Act, or NY S62209, was introduced by State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey to prohibit racial discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles. The act considers “race” to include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Ancestry.
  • Color.
  • Ethnic group identification.
  • Ethnic background.

Additionally, the act protects traits historically associated with race, which include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Hair texture.
  • Protective hairstyles (i.e., braids, locks, and twists).

How can I confirm my employer is complying with the CROWN Act?

You must review your employer’s dress code and hygiene policies to confirm whether your employer has updated them to reflect the legally required changes. On top of this, look out for any training on diversity and inclusion in the workplace, along with harassment and discrimination programs, that your employer may offer in response to this newly established act. If they have not taken any action, you may want to submit a written suggestion that they do.

How can I confirm my employer is violating the CROWN Act?

Below is a list of lawful and unlawful hygiene and dress code policies that you can use to determine whether your employer is violating the CROWN Act:

  • Unlawful hygiene and dress code policies:
    • Requirements on shaving.
    • Requirements on hair length or styles.
    • Requirements that differ between men and women employees.
  • Lawful hygiene and dress code policies:
    • Requirements that are necessary to maintain safety in the workplace.
    • Requirements on appropriate clothing for a professional work environment.
    • Requirements on how to process an accommodation request.
    • Requirements on how to inquire about these policies.

With that being said, if your employer exhibits any of the above unlawful hygiene and dress code policies, then they may face the same penalties listed in New York’s Law Against Discrimination. So, you may be able to sue to receive equitable relief, recovery for economic losses, compensatory damages, punitive damages, etc. To kickstart your case, do not hesitate in retaining the services of a skilled New York employee rights lawyer today.


If your employer has possibly committed wage and hour violations, you need to hire an attorney who understands all of the applicable state and federal employment laws. At Bell Law Group, PLLC, our attorneys are experienced in private employment claims. We offer a free strategy session and have offices in New York, Florida, and Washington, D.C. To schedule your consultation, call 855-566-2355 or contact us.

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