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Can a company tell employees not to dye their hair with bright colors?

April 10, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Cyndi Lauper in her video for “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”

So if you want your hair to look like Cyndi Lauper’s, circa 1984, your boss might not think that’s such a good idea. (Even if you’re just wanting to have some fun!)

The topic of brightly dyed hair came up in the last HR Snapshot. So the answer to, “Can companies tell employees not to dye their hair with bright colors?” is a yes. As is often the case, though, there are a few things to consider before doing so.

Employers generally have the right to set guidelines with respect to professional appearance. Brightly colored hair is not a protected trait or class (e.g., race, sex, age). However, if it was part of a religious practice or common in a particular ethnicity, an employer would want to consider whether it would be appropriate to make an exception or accommodation. If neither of these were the case, there would be no issue enforcing a policy prohibiting brightly colored hair.

Keep in mind, however, that creative hair colors are more common and socially acceptable today, even in professional settings. Prohibiting brightly colored hair could make it more difficult to find or keep talented employees. It’s generally best to have a sound business reason for your dress code and appearance policy.

If you decide to implement a policy like this, make sure that your managers apply it consistently. Allowing one employee to have pink hair—when not a religious or other thought-out exception—but not another, could create workplace drama, and even open you up to discrimination claims.

And, yes, this applies to both men and women.

Categories: Uncategorized.