At the end of October 2022, the Massachusetts Act Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Natural and Protective Hairstyles (the “CROWN Act”) went into effect. The CROWN Act expands the definition of “race” under Chapter 151B to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, hair length, and protective hairstyles.” The term “protective hairstyles” is further defined to “include, but not be limited to, braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots, hair coverings, and other formations.”

The MCAD is tasked with promulgating rules and regulations to implement the CROWN Act. In the meantime, however, the Act is presently in effect and employers should review and update their Equal Employment Opportunity and dress, grooming, and related policies to ensure compliance.