On January 18, 2020, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced a plan to “step back as ‘senior’ members” of the British royal family. In an Instagram post, the beloved couple wrote, “After many months of reflection and internal discussions, we have chosen to make a transition this year in starting to carve out a progressive new role within this institution. We intend to step back as ‘senior’ members of the Royal Family and work to become financially independent, while continuing to fully support Her Majesty The Queen.” The progressive decision, which the tabloids cleverly coined #Megxit, has already had and will continue to have complex societal, political and financial implications for Britain.
On this side of the pond, the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements have motivated progressive legislative changes across the country. In the wake of and response to these movements, most states have passed legislation aimed at cultivating a safe workplace and expanding employee rights. New Jersey is not only among the states making sweeping legislative changes, the Garden State is at the forefront of the employment law revolution. The state legislature has been revisiting a wide range of employment principles and enacting new laws that have complex legal implications.
In late 2019, New Jersey enacted the “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act” (CROWN Act). The CROWN Act amended the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) to clarify that race discrimination includes discrimination based on “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.”
New Jersey’s CROWN Act was signed into law exactly one year after Andrew Johnson, an African-American high school student and wrestler, was forced to cut off his locks in order to compete in a match. Had the CROWN Act been in place, requiring Johnson to cut his hair would have constituted discrimination based on race, which now includes “traits historically associated with race,” such as “hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.” Three states in the Union now prohibit discrimination based on cultural hairstyles. According to the CROWN Coalition, twelve other states have at some point introduced CROWN Act legislation.
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