Question & Answer:
Am I permitted to put restrictions on how employees dress or do their hair at work?
Yes. Employers have the right to create and enforce consistent and nondiscriminatory dress and hygiene policies, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Suggestions for drafting and enforcing such policies include:
Explain reasons for regulations (safety, visibility to customers, health)
Inform all employees of requirements and consequences for failure to comply
Enforce policy and consequences for violations equally among all employeesKeep policies flexible enough to accommodate religious, racial and ethnic concerns, but keep in mind that if providing an accommodation would legitimately create a safety issue or a hardship for the business, you are not required to provide it
Set guidelines that fit the work environment—take safety, customer contact, type of business and working conditions into consideration
Ensure that guidelines do not affect a protected group of people differently than others—a guideline influenced by racial considerations is unlawful according to the EEOC
Avoid basing guidelines on what you perceive the beliefs of others to be—while you might think that customers feel wearing bright colors is unprofessional, this may not represent the true beliefs of your customers
Regardless of whether or not there are dress and hygiene policies in place, employers are allowed to address issues of inappropriate attire and hygiene on a case-by-case basis, as long as they do so consistently.
This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. It is provided for general information purposes only. Readers should contact legal counsel for legal advice.