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Sep27

Grooming Standards

We are a manufacturing facility and have a clean room. Employees who work in this clean room must wear the appropriate protective clothing which includes mask and open faced hoods. We have been informed by our cleaning vendor that there are many hoods that cannot be repaired or cleaned due to make-up. We have 2 employees that perform this task, 1 female and 1 male. We will now have to replace quite a few of these open faced hoods which will increase or cost significantly. Can this female employee be told she cannot wear make-up?

Employers are generally able to set appearance standards as deemed suitable for business need. Dress and grooming policies are permitted as long as they don’t violate discrimination or harassment laws. Such laws prohibit discrimination or harassment based on protected characteristics including race, national origin, gender, religion and disability.

In this situation, there is a clear business need for prohibiting employees who work in the clean room from wearing make-up. Adopting such a policy is acceptable as long as it’s uniformly applied. So, prohibiting the female employee from wearing make-up but allowing the male employee to wear it may constitute gender discrimination since you’re imposing different appearance standards on female and male employees. Men wearing make-up is becoming more common. Thus, it’s important not to single out the female employee.

It’s advisable to implement a policy stating that any employees working in the clean room are prohibited from wearing make-up.

It’s also important to consider how you plan to communicate the new policy to the staff. You may want to send a memo to both employees detailing the new policy, the effective date, and a brief explanation. Usually, an explanation for a new policy is not really necessary. However, in this case it may prevent some negative backlash.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2015 at 7:26 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws, Workplace Management.
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