Can an employer regulate facial hair length?

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Can an employer regulate facial hair length?

I have been working at a company, a grocery store, for the last 13 years. I have always had facial hair. Over the last year or so, I have let my beard grow in length, though I keep it cleaned and groomed. Now my company is implementing a new personal appearance policy that states that beards may not be longer than 2 inches. Since I am the only person to whom this applies, I feel very singled out.

Furthermore, this feels like a violation of my freedom of expression. The beard does not present any safety concerns. Is there any way I can fight this legally?

Asked on November 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Maine

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that without an employment contract or union agreemnt to the contrary, a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. That is absent some form of legally actioanable discrimination. Specifically, if you are being singled out due to  your religion, race, disability, age (over 40), gender, nationality, etc. then that is illegal. So for example, if you wear a certain length beard for religious or possibly medical reasons, then you have a claim. otherwise, you must trim your beard or face discipline, up to and including termination.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that without an employment contract or union agreemnt to the contrary, a company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. That is absent some form of legally actioanable discrimination. Specifically, if you are being singled out due to  your religion, race, disability, age (over 40), gender, nationality, etc. then that is illegal. So for example, if you wear a certain length beard for religious or possibly medical reasons, then you have a claim. otherwise, you must trim your beard or face discipline, up to and including termination.


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