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Can your boss make you change your hairstyle?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2022 | Discrimination |

For many Californians, hairstyles are more about fashion than personal identity. As you may know, though, some cultures encourage individuals to wear certain hairstyles. Moreover, some residents of the Golden State have fewer options for styling their hair.

If your employer wants to present a specific image, it may be tempting for your boss to ask you to change your hairstyle. While some requests may be perfectly legal, others may violate California’s Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act.

What is the CROWN Act?

The CROWN Act protects employees and applicants from discrimination because of the style or texture of their hair. According to the Anti-Defamation League, members of the black community have long faced discrimination for exactly these reasons. The CROWN Act does not only protect black employees and applicants.

What are your rights?

As an employee in California, you have a right to be free from discrimination when wearing hairstyles that closely relate to your racial or ethnic traits. Therefore, your employer should not ask you to straighten your hair or to wear it in a certain way. Furthermore, you probably have a right to wear braids, twists or dreadlocks, as these are likely protective hairstyles.

Can your employer retaliate against you?

It certainly can be awkward to resist your employer’s instructions to change your hairstyle. Doing so, though, is worthwhile, as it allows you to have the hairstyle you want. Ultimately, if your employer takes adverse employment action against you for asserting your rights under the CROWN Act, you may have grounds to pursue a separate legal claim.