Dress, grooming policies should serve bona fide business need

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

By Heather A. Hoyt, Esq.

Employers may generally impose rules requiring employees to adhere to reasonable workplace appearance, grooming and dress standards. But as straightforward as the issue seems to be, grooming standards can create problems for employers.

The best practice: Craft a policy that requires employees to maintain a neat, clean, professional appearance.

But employers can't apply a grooming policy that fails to accommodate employees' religious needs or that places undo requirements on transgender people.

Uniform application

Employers may impose rules governing dress and grooming that include different standards for men and women, as long the policy does not disproportionately burden either sex.

For example, a female bartender who sued when she was fired for refusing to wear required makeup failed to persuade the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the grooming policy was particularly onerous.

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