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New Connecticut CROWN Act Bans Natural Hair Discrimination in the Workplace

Connecticut has joined the growing list of states that prohibit discrimination on the basis of traits historically associated with race, including hair. On March 10, 2021, Connecticut adopted legislation to ban natural hair discrimination in the workplace.

In 2019, California was the first state to implement a law called the CROWN Act, an acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. Other states that have joined California include Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington.

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law House Bill No. 6515, An Act Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, which amends Connecticut’s anti-discrimination law to define race as “inclusive of ethnic traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” The new law further defines “protective hairstyles” as including, but not limited to, “wigs, headwraps and hairstyles such as individual braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros and afro puffs.”

Employers across the United States have long-implemented dress code and grooming policies. Those policies that restrict certain hairstyles have come under scrutiny amidst growing awareness that certain hair texture and hairstyles are closely related to an individual’s race. While the Connecticut CROWN Act does not eliminate an employer’s ability to enforce dress code and grooming policies, employers should review such policies, as well as their hiring and employment practices, to ensure they do not prohibit protected hairstyles or traits historically associated with race. Employers also are encouraged to train managers and supervisors on this new law.

Furthermore, the phrase “ethnic traits historically associated with race” may be subject to interpretation or clarification over time.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 74

About this Author

Tanya Bovee, employment law compliance attorney, employment lawyer, disability accommodation, Jackson Lewis, Hartford law firm
Office Managing Principal

Tanya A. Bovée is the Office Managing Principal of the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Jackson Lewis P.C.

Ms. Bovée routinely advises and provides management training on all aspects of employment law compliance, employment disputes and personnel matters such as hiring, firing, performance management, internal investigations, and disability accommodation. She also has an active litigation practice, defending employers from federal and state claims. Ms. Bovée also defends employers in OFCCP compliance reviews and oversees...


Alison P. Dearington is an Associate in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counsel.

While attending law school, Ms. Dearington was the Membership Manager of the Connecticut Law Review as well as a member of UConn’s National Moot Court Competition team. During her undergraduate studies, Ms. Dearington spent a semester in Washington, D.C. interning for the United States Senate’s Health,...

Jessica L. Vizvary Labor & Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis Hartford, CT

Jessica L. Vizvary is an Associate in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She focuses her practice on employment litigation. 

Ms. Vizvary defends employers against claims of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and failure to accommodate before federal and state courts and administrative agencies. 

In addition to handling employment litigation matters, Ms. Vizvary assists higher education clients with a broad range of student related matters, including Title IX sexual misconduct investigations, student grievances,...