Michigan Enacts CROWN Act to Prohibit Hair Discrimination in Employment

On June 15, 2023, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act (“CROWN Act”), which amends the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (“ELCRA”) to prohibit discrimination based on traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and protective hairstyles. This amendment has immediate effect.

ELCRA currently prohibits employment discrimination-based religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, and marital status. The CROWN ACT expands the protected class of “race” to include “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

This is the third time Michigan has amended ELCRA in 2023. In March 2023, Michigan added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” as protected classes. In May 2023, Michigan amended ELCRA to prohibit employer discrimination based on abortion by amending the definition of “sex” to include “pregnancy, childbirth, the termination of a pregnancy, or a related medical condition.” Unlike the CROWN Act, the earlier amendments take effect 90 days after the end of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session, which is usually mid to late March 2024.

Marc T. Bowen

For more information concerning the CROWN Act and other employment issues, contact Lisa Milton by phone at 248.641.8486, or by email at [email protected].