Q. Can we require male employees' hair be a certain length, or is that discrimination? Also, can we say male employees can't have beards? —C.H., Illinois
A. Plenty of federal courts have upheld employers' grooming policies that prohibit male employees from having long hair. This is true even when female employees are allowed to have long hair.
But your other question is a different story: No-beard rules are usually a no-no. Courts have said such rules fall more heavily on black employees than others. That's because black men are more likely to suffer from a condition called PFB, which causes “razor bumps” and prevents them from shaving. You still may be able to set a legal no-beard policy if you can show that it's necessary to maintain. And even if you can't set a no-beard policy, your grooming policy can still require that all facial hair be neatly trimmed.
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