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Employee Dying to Make Our Workplace More Colorful

Posted in: Truckstop Business, Human Resources

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/// Guest post by contributor Federated Insurance

Employee Dying to Make Our Workplace More Colorful

Today Federated Insurance is sharing one of our “HR Questions of the Month” regarding employment-related practices liability issues. 

Question: We have a staff member who has dyed her hair bright blue, purple, red, yellow (up to and including her eyebrows). How acceptable is this in the work place?

ResponseWhether or not "rainbow-colored" hair and eyebrows are acceptable in the workplace is generally a matter of individual employer preference. For some more casual employers, different-colored dyed hair may not be an issue, particularly if employees do not interface with the public at large and/or if it is otherwise not a distraction. Other employers, however, may not find such styles to be compatible with, or suitable for, their professional image. Employers generally have the right to establish reasonable grooming and dress codes for employees, including reasonable rules on hairstyles, though nothing in the dress code should impose a greater burden on a protected class, such as a particular race, gender, etc. And while there is nothing expressly prohibiting an employer from banning outlandish hair coloring in particular, keep in mind that some employees wear or style their hair a certain way for religious reasons. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are required to accommodate the sincerely held religious beliefs and practices of employees (including allowing shaved heads or long hair or changing grooming requirements, etc.), unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer.

If the employer wishes to address employees' or applicants' hair to be consistent with a company policy that requires employees to maintain a professional, neat, clean or similar appearance, the best practice is typically to provide more general guidelines in the policy, which gives the employer greater flexibility, rather than precluding a particular hair style or color. In other words, in this situation, we are not aware of any reason the employer could not simply inform the staff member of its standards with regard to professionalism and expectations when it comes to appearance and presentation of oneself, and that her hair and eyebrow color in its present state does not comport with the employer's expectations. In either case, the employer should address professionalism, appearance, and dress code issues, if any, in its Employee Handbook.

{Guest Post} Guest post provided by Federated Insurance*. For more than a century, Federated Insurance Companies has provided peace of mind to business owners through valued insurance protection. Learn more about Federated Insurance.

The opinions and advice given by guest post contributors are not necessarily those of NATSO Inc. The posts should not be considered legal advice. Qualified professionals should be sought regarding advice and questions specific to your circumstances.

*The "HT Express Update" is provided by Enquiron, a company wholly independent from Federated Insurance. Federated provides its clients access to this information through the Federated Employment Practices Network with the understanding that neither Federated nor its employees provide legal or employment advice. As such, Federated does not warrant the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information herein. This information may be subject to restrictions and regulations in your state. Consultant with your independent advisors regarding your specific facts and circumstances. © 2014 Advisors Law Group, All Rights Reserved

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Federated Insurance

Federated Insurance

The "HT Express Update" is provided by Enquiron, a company wholly independent from Federated Insurance. Federated provides its clients access to this information through the Federated Employment Practices Network with the understanding that neither Federated nor its employees provide legal or employment advice. As such, Federated does not warrant the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information herein. This information may be subject to restrictions and regulations in your state. Consultant with your independent advisors regarding your specific facts and circumstances.