Jim Boyan Quoted in Article on New Hair Discrimination Law Requires Reexamining Workplace Policies
Attorney Jim Boyan quoted in law.com article, “New Hair Discrimination Law Requires Reexamining Workplace Policies, Employment Attorneys Say.” The article explains that with the newly signed CROWN Act banning race-based hair discrimination in the workplace and other areas of public accommodation, New Jersey employment lawyers say employers must take stock of existing grooming policies.
James Boyan III, a partner with the employment law practice at Pashman Stein Walder Hayden in Hackensack, said “policies that employers believed were neutral as to race because they applied to all employees easily in the past, need to be double-checked to see if they have a disparate effect on a certain race.”
For example, Boyan said if an employer has a policy banning dreadlocks for all races that wasn’t a problem before, now it could be, because the new law states that dreadlocks have historically been associated with a certain race.
“It should be something that employers may want to add—anti-discrimination or anti-harassment training—to make them aware that making comments about certain people’s hairstyles could be discriminatory,” Boyan said.
“Where one person may find it welcome conduct, someone else may find it inappropriate and feel as if they are being singled out because of the difference in their hairstyle,” added Boyan. “Employers need to tread lightly and advise employees to be sensitive to other’s feelings in that respect.”
Boyan and Shapiro also foresee a potential shift in hiring practices because of the CROWN Act.
“It’s hard to know what type of impact these types of [grooming] policies have had in the past,” Boyan said. “Some of them embraced looking a specific way, and that hairstyles of European descent were viewed as acceptable.”
“The new law is making it clear there is no one type of hairstyle that is viewed as acceptable in the workplace,” Boyan said. “The change in the law could open employment positions where people were excluded based on their hairstyle or type of hair.”
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