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Illinois Employers Be Alert: The CROWN Act Will Protect Natural Hairstyles in the Workplace

On June 29, 2022, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, effective January 1, 2023.

What is changed:

The CROWN Act amends the Illinois Human Rights Act in an expanded definition of protection due to race.

What is the new definition of race:

“Race” includes traits associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.

What employers are covered:

Employers with one or more employees in the State of Illinois.

Remedies under the law:

An employee may file a charge of race discrimination due to natural hairstyle with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

In conclusion:

The length of a natural hairstyle may be problematic for employers in some situations such as machine operators or food workers. Can an employer require an employee with long natural hair to cover up the hair to prevent entanglement in a machine or hair in the food of a customer? Normally in these situations, employers could require a cover-up of the hair for safety or food hygiene.

In view of these new protections for natural hairstyles, Illinois employers should be sure to seek advice of legal counsel for a legal review and update of their current policies on appearance and discrimination.

Questions? Contact Attorney Anthony J. Caruso, Jr., in our St. Charles office at (630) 377-1554 or by email at

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