The CROWN Act Passes in Michigan: How Does That Impact Your Community Association?
Michigan is now the 23rd state with a law that bars racial discrimination to include discrimination based on hair texture and hairstyles such as braids, locks and twists. Senate Bill 90, also known as the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair or CROWN Act updates the definition of race in the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”
Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and Community Associations
The basic premise of the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is found in its initial section, i.e., “recognition and declaration of civil right”:
(1) The opportunity to obtain employment, housing and other real estate, and the full and equal utilization of public accommodations, public service, and educational facilities without discrimination because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status as prohibited by this act, is recognized and declared to be a civil right. MCL 37.2102.
In a 2017 case against Catastrophe Management Solutions, an insurance claims processing service, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission when it held that the defendant “…banning dreadlocks in the workplace under a race-neutral grooming policy—does not constitute intentional race-based discrimination.” The court held that refusing to hire someone because of their dreadlocks is legal. However, with the enactment of the CROWN Act, this is now considered illegal in 23 states.
The law bars discrimination in housing, employment, education, and public accommodations, specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of hairstyles that are commonly associated with race. For a condominium association or HOA, this means that employees, job applicants, contractors, or service providers may not be discriminated against based on their hairstyles. Further, the same goes for prospective co-owners that are looking to purchase or rent in your community association.
The CROWN Act Introduced in 2019
Michigan joins 22 other states with similar laws in place, with California being the first to pass the CROWN Act in 2019. The CROWN Act was created in 2019 by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, in partnership with then State Senator Holly J. Mitchell of California, “to ensure protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles by extending statutory protection to hair texture and protective styles such as braids, locs, twists, and knots in the workplace and public schools.”
Bill sponsor State Senator Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing previously introduced the bill in 2019 as a member of the House before this year’s legislation advanced through the Legislature. While the CROWN Act did not move when Anthony previously introduced it, she has continued to advocate for the legislation after hearing firsthand experiences of Black people of hair discrimination. Anthony describes the CROWN Act as a matter of personal empowerment, and said its approval was “a long time coming.”
Currently there are 23 states with legislation that has been filed or pre-filed and 5 states that does not have legislation filed.
Rita Khan is the Digital Marketing Manager at Hirzel Law, PLC. She has over 15 years of experience in property management with the last five years managing condominium and homeowners’ associations. Ms. Khan holds several designations and certifications such as Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), Association Management Specialist (AMS) and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) from the Community Associations Institute (CAI), Accredited Residential Manager (ARM), Accredited Commercial Manager (ACoM), and Certified Property Manager (CPM) from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Portfolio Supervisor (CAPS) from the National Apartment Association (NAA), Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) from Scrum Alliance, Professional Certified Marketer Marketing Management (PCM) from the American Marketing Association and Certified Digital Marketing Professional (CDMP) from the Digital Marketing Institute. Ms. Khan currently serves as the Chair of the CAI-Michigan Social Media Committee and is an active member of the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), where she serves as a member of the IREM Foundation Board of Directors, NextGen Advisory Committee, and a member of the Board of Directors for the IREM Michigan Chapter. She may be reached at (248) 986-2290 or firstname.lastname@example.org.