Close Shave: Is it Legal to Set a No-Beard Policy for Male Staff?

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in HR Soapbox

Anyone watching the Sasquatch convention baseball playoffs this past month noticed that most of the Boston Red Sox players looked like they hadn’t shaved since Spring Training. The Sox rode their unkempt culture all the way to a World Series title.

That’s got some leaders wondering ... can we use that same beard power in our organizations?

Red Sox fan and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey guffawed on TV yesterday that, “I’m recommending to the (Obama) administration to have everyone working on the health care website to grow beards until we get that right.”

While some employers make take a liking to such beard bonding in the workplace, others demand a clean-shaven culture, much to their employees’ dismay (especially in Boston this week).

So can your organization set a no-beard policy for its male employees?

Basically, private employers do have the right to set their own dress and grooming codes. That can include setting limit...(register to read more)

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rik Warren November 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm

This is a throw back and has no place in business. No serious professional will groom/ or not, to replicate the Red Sox beardly bro-ness. It is a rule about control and not about results. Should I as a member of the Church of the Unnacient be subjected to rules not applicable to Orthodox Jews /Sikhs, et al? Oh no, you wore a STRIPED SHIRT. You are too tan; Too tall; Too blond; Tell Larry Ellison to shave his goatee! Moronic and totally regimented thinking holds us back. Embrace the individual.


David Phippen November 4, 2013 at 12:05 pm

A well-timed, nicely-written article. I would add that states and/or localities may enact laws that prohibit employment discrimination based on “appearance.” For example, the District of Columbia has one. The precise range of application of such a law is not entirely clear. In D.C., the D.C. Human Rights Act “personal appearance” category has been applied to factors such as cross-dressing, hair styles and beards . From the employer-advocate side, we typically argue legitimate business reasons, purpose and/or necessity (for example, safety) for the factor that is challenged.


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