Can my boss legally ask me to remove my facial piercing while allowing other employees to keep theirs?

UPDATED: Feb 15, 2012

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Can my boss legally ask me to remove my facial piercing while allowing other employees to keep theirs?

My boss is demanding I take out my small stud lip piercing at the fast food place I work. However he is allowing other employees to keep their stud nose piercings because they are “artistic” and mine is “disgusting”. I haven’t signed a company policy or been shown any evidence against facial piercings.

Asked on February 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract? If you do not, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be disciplined, demoted, suspended, and/or terminated at any time, for any reason. In addition, employers have the right to 1) set dress, hygience, body art, piercing, etc. policies--which can include allowing nose studs but not lip studs, if the employer chooses--and 2) is under no obligation to treat all  employees the same, so long as it is not discriminating against a protected category (e.g. not discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability).

Putting the above together, it would appear that your employer has the right to tell you to take  out your piercing even if it lets other employees keep their piercings, and to fire you if you do not.

Note: the employer does not need to show you any "evidence" against facial piercings--it is entitled to be arbitrary, if it chooses.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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