By Julia Tape, Linda C. Schoonmaker, and Elizabeth L. Humphrey

Seyfarth Synopsis: Natural hairstyles have become increasingly popular among Black Americans of both sexes. Despite their popularity, these hairstyles have been overregulated frequently in the workplace. To address this concern, Texas recently joined the ranks of twenty-one other states in passing the CROWN Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on hair texture or hairstyle.

On May 27, 2023, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law H.B. 567, the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, aimed at protecting citizens from hair discrimination. The CROWN Act amends Chapter 21 of the Texas Labor Code to prohibit discrimination “on the basis of hair texture or protective hairstyle commonly associated with race.” The Act specifically lists “braids, locks, and twists” as hairstyles deserving protection. However, the Act prohibits discrimination based on “hairstyle[s] commonly associated with race[,]” which is broad enough to include other styles like afros, cornrows, bantu knots, and high-top fades.  

The CROWN Act will become effective on September 1, 2023. It applies to employers, labor unions, employment agencies, public schools, and institutions of higher education. Currently, there are no cases that challenge the CROWN Act in the employment context.

Although an analogous federal law has not been enacted, the House passed H. R. 2116 in March 2022. The federal version of the CROWN Act would have prohibited programs that receive federal financial assistance from discriminating against individuals with “hair texture or hairstyle” that is “commonly associated with a particular race or national origin.”  The companion bill did not succeed in the Senate. In light of the CROWN Act’s failure at the federal level, Texas state law provides Black Americans with more protection against natural hair discrimination than federal law.


Texas employers should review their dress and grooming policies to ensure that those policies do not run afoul of the CROWN Act. Employers would be wise to think about the term “protective hairstyle” expansively, as the CROWN Act may easily be read to include protection for styles other than those listed in the Act. If an employer desires to create a policy that regulates hairstyles, it should consider if its policy could be applied to discriminate on the basis of race. Workplace grooming policies should not be written or enforced in a way that disproportionately subjects Black employees to discipline. Vague terms like “distracting” and “extreme” open the door for broad interpretations and potentially problematic enforcement. Employers should educate their employees, especially supervisors, about different hair textures and hairstyles that are “commonly or historically associated with race.” Any hairstyle monitoring should be equitable across employees of all races.

For more information on this or any related topic, please contact the authors, your Seyfarth attorney, or any member of the Workplace Counseling & Solutions Team. or the Workplace Policies and Handbooks Team.