Earlier this month, Montgomery County, Maryland, passed the Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or CROWN Act. The new law prohibits discrimination against people who wear natural and protective African-American hairstyles such as Afros, locks, braids and twists. It applies to employment discrimination and also public accommodation discrimination.
Staying on top of changes in state and federal employment law can be something of a challenge. It is a good idea to designate someone in your human resources department to comb through your employee materials and make sure they're up to date, and the beginning of the year can be a good time to do that.
We've all heard of the gender pay gap, but what about the racial pay gap? You may know that, in 2017, American women earned about 80.5 cents for each dollar earned by similarly situated men. Far fewer people are aware of the pay disparity between whites and African-Americans and Hispanics.
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King., Jr., described the "Other America" in one of his final speeches. He talked about the "fatigue of despair" for African-Americans who continue to be left out despite making significant economic and educational progress. Fifty years later, according to the Associated Press, a huge number of African-Americans find themselves underemployed and largely locked out of the highest-paying fields.
In this day and age, it is difficult to accept that discrimination still plays a significant role in some U.S. workplaces. Discrimination in employment has been explicitly outlawed since 1964, but unfortunately people are still sometimes treated unfairly, demoted or fired on the basis of their age, sex, race, disability, religion and a number of other classifications. When this happens, the victims of discrimination can seek legal recourse.
After an executive of clothing retailer Wet Seal visited several stores in Maryland and Philadelphia in 2009, the executive emailed subordinates that the stores lacked diversity. Specifically, the email stated the stores had too many black employees.