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Can dermatologist tell worker to tone down the tan?

by on
in Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. We’re a dermatology practice and one of our new em­­ployees is excessive with tanning. She has a dark tan and sometimes is sunburned. We promote the opposite of what she does. She also wears tight low-cut tops. Are we allowed to say something in both regards? — Kim, Maryland

A. First, yes, you can adopt a dress code and enforce it. If that code includes a bar on overly revealing clothing, that’s fine.

The tanning falls into the same category, but enforcing such a rule may seem a bit intrusive. Where would you draw the line: Would you terminate someone who just sometimes gets sunburned? If so, then you can go ahead and enforce the rule, as long as you think you can enforce it evenhandedly.

Ultimately, this may be more of an employee relations issue. Was she was aware of your expectations when hired? Can you provide educational information so she understands why this is important? If so, you may be able to have a more productive conversation regarding her tanning choices.

Note: “Personal appearance” discrimination is prohibited in nearby Washington, D.C., but it does not qualify as a protected class in Maryland or most other jurisdictions.

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