The State of Washington has enacted legislation (House Bill 2602) that expands the definition of race discrimination to include traits historically associated with race. House Bill 2602 is effective June 11, 2020.
Washington prohibits employers with eight or more employees from discriminating against applicants and employees because of race and certain other characteristics.
House Bill 2602:
House Bill 2602 expands race discrimination protections to include traits historically associated with, or perceived to be associated with, race. This includes, but is not limited to, hair texture, hair type, or protective hairstyles such as braids, locks, and twists.
Washington employers should review dress codes, appearance policies, and training to ensure they avoid restrictions on hairstyles historically associated with race and that they comply with House Bill 2602. If your policy simply indicates that employees must maintain kempt hair, consider clarifying that kempt means that the hair is clean and well combed or arranged, and that employees can comply with a variety of hairstyles that meet those criteria. Please contact your dedicated service professional with any questions.