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On December 19, 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Create a Respectful and Open Workspace for Natural Hair Act (the CROWN Act), expanding protections under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The Act amends the LAD’s definition of “race” to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.” “Protective hair styles” include, but are not limited to, “such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.” 

The CROWN Act passed both houses of New Jersey’s Legislature with nearly unanimous support. New Jersey now joins California and New York, which passed similar legislation earlier this year to prohibit such discrimination.  Legislators pointed to the case of a New Jersey high school wrestler who was forced by a referee to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match as an impetus for the CROWN Act. The Act goes into effect immediately.

Governor Murphy was quoted as saying, “No one should be made to feel uncomfortable or be discriminated against because of their natural hair. I am proud to sign this law in order to help ensure that all New Jersey residents can go to work, school, or participate in athletic events with dignity.”  

New Jersey law is now clear: Discrimination against individuals because of their historically race-based hairstyle or texture is unlawful.