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CT Bans Discrimination Based on Hairstyles Historically Associated With Race; NY Mandates Paid Leave for Employees to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine
Friday, March 19, 2021

Connecticut Bans Discrimination Based on Hairstyles Historically Associated With Race

Earlier this month, Connecticut became the latest state to ban discrimination based on hairstyles historically associated with race, joining California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, and Washington. The Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, or Crown, Act amends Connecticut’s Fair Employment Practices Act to define race as “inclusive of ethnic traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.” The Act further defines “protective hairstyles” as “including, but not limited to, wigs, headwraps and hairstyles such as individual braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros and afro puffs.” Although Connecticut employers retain the ability to implement dress codes and grooming policies, any such policies that restrict hairstyles should be carefully evaluated to ensure they do not prohibit hairstyles historically associated with race. Additionally, we anticipate that the phrase “ethnic traits historically associated with race” will be the subject of future interpretation and litigation, which could prompt the need for further review of employment policies.

NY Mandates Paid Leave for Employees to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

Seeking to boost access to the coronavirus vaccine, and facilitate vaccinations, the New York legislature enacted the Leave for COVID-19 Vaccination Law (the “Vaccination Law”), which was promptly signed into law by Governor Cuomo.  The new law provides that all public and private employers located in New York must provide their employees with “a sufficient period”—up to four hours—of paid time off to receive their vaccination, unless a collective bargaining agreement provides for additional time. The leave must be paid at the employee’s regular rate of pay and, significantly, must not be deducted from any existing paid sick leave or other paid time off.  As with other New York leave laws, the Vaccination Law contains an anti-retaliation provision, prohibiting employers from penalizing, threatening, or discriminating or otherwise retaliating against an employee for requesting or taking such leave.  The Vaccination Law is effective from March 12, 2021, through December 31, 2022.

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