March 23, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 82


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Minnesota’s New CROWN Act Becomes Law: State Now Prohibits Discrimination Based on Hair Style

On February 1, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a law to prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and hair styles, adding Minnesota to the growing list of states to enact such legislation, commonly referred to as the “CROWN Act.”

The Minnesota law, House File (HF) 37, revises the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), by expanding the definition of “race” to be “inclusive of traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and hair styles such as braids, locs, and twists.” The governor’s approval comes after the law passed both chambers of the state legislature by wide margins in January 2023.

At least nineteen other states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several cities and counties have passed legislation to prohibit discrimination based on hair texture and hair styles—referred to as Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or “CROWN Act”—that are associated with certain races or ethnicities. A nationwide bill has further been considered by the U.S. Congress.

Key Takeaways

The MHRA already prohibits race discrimination in employment, but the new law adds explicit protections for “traits associated with race.” Still, the law does not provide details on specific hair styles that are protected, except for “braids, locs, and twists.” Some other jurisdictions, such as Massachusetts, have explicitly protected styles such as Bantu knots, in addition to hair coverings. The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) is expected to issue further guidance on the application of the new law.

In the meantime, employers in Minnesota may want to consider reviewing their employee handbooks, dress code policies, and anti-discrimination policies for compliance with these new protections for hair textures and hair styles.

© 2023, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C., All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XIII, Number 34

About this Author

Cynthia Bremer, Minneapolis, Office Shareholder, Employment, Labor, Attorney, Ogletree Deakins Law FIrm
Office Managing Shareholder

Cynthia Bremer is the managing shareholder of the Minneapolis office. Cynthia has extensive experience in employment law and complex litigation matters. Her practice focuses on representing corporations and corporate management in all types of employment law matters. While Cynthia’s primary focus has been employment litigation defense in federal and state courts throughout the Midwest, including class and collective actions, Cynthia also advises companies on critical employment law issues involving past and present employees. Further, Cynthia has litigated numerous restrictive covenants...

Colin Hargreaves Employment Lawyer Ogletree Deakins Law Firm

Colin is an associate in the Minneapolis office of Ogletree Deakins. Colin graduated from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, where he earned Dean’s List honors several times and gained substantial hands-on litigation experience, including participating on one of the School’s Moot Court teams and arguing a motion before a Federal Bankruptcy Judge in one of the School’s Clinics. Colin received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin—Stout.

Senior Marketing Counsel

In the Senior Marketing Counsel role, Zachary develops strategy for the firm’s blog and other content. He serves as a lead writer for articles and blog posts for publication on the firm’s website both individually and in consultation with firm attorneys. He also works closely with the Client Services department and firm attorneys to develop relevant content, including through use of webinars, publications, blogs, podcasts, and graphics.

Prior to joining Ogletree Deakins, Zachary served as a Senior Reporter for Law360, a leading online legal news publication, covering the sports and...