Ask the Pro: Can An Employee Dress Code Policy Address Facial Hair?

by Mammoth Team on November 12, 2015

Q: Are we able to include a dress code policy in our employee handbook that specifies requirements for facial hair/hair length?

A: It is legal to have an across-the-board policy that facial hair is not permitted or must be well-trimmed. However, some disabilities preclude people from being able to shave regularly, and there are also some religious traditions with closely held beliefs regarding facial hair. So while you may have this policy, it is important to realize that if an employee indicates an objection to it based on a verifiable disability or religious belief, you will almost certainly need to make an exception. While an accommodation can, in theory, be refused if it creates an undue burden, that standard is very high and hard to meet. For companies with dress codes, those undue burdens are usually related to legitimate safety, health, or security concerns.

The same holds true for hair length. While your dress code may specify that hair length on men may not pass a certain length, we strongly recommend you consider a policy that simply requires hair to be pulled back and neatly groomed. There are several religious groups that require their members to refrain from cutting their hair – those employees would likely need an accommodation. In addition, there are men who simply enjoy a longer mane; our best practice recommendation is to make dress codes gender neutral to avoid employees feeling that they are being treated disparately.

Topics: Compliance, Best Practices

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