Earlier this month, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair (CROWN) Act” for the purpose of protecting individuals from discrimination and retaliation in employment, housing, education, and public services/accommodations on the basis of an individual’s natural hairstyle. Specifically, the CROWN Act amends the Minnesota Human Rights Act to provide that discrimination against an individual on the basis of “traits associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and hair styles such braids, locs, and twists,” is unlawful. 

Minnesota Senator Bobby Jo Champion praised the passage of the bill as “another step toward creating a more inclusive Minnesota,” also stating that “[t]he CROWN Act will ensure that no Minnesotan now or in the future can be discriminated against because of their natural hair,” which Champion noted “disproportionately affects Black women, who deserve to experience a welcoming environment in our state.” The CROWN Act will not, however, provide legal protections for other types of expressions, including “tattoos, piercings, or hair colorings,” as noted by the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage in a pre-passage publication (available here). 

Last week Minnesota lawmakers also passed a bill recognizing Juneteenth – June 19th – as an official state holiday, and the bill was signed into law by Governor Walz on February 3rd. Minnesota is the 26th state to recognize Juneteenth as an official holiday.  

Ballard Spahr routinely advises employers on anti-discrimination laws and developments nationwide.