Most employers have numerous rules that apply to their staff members. A company may have a zero-tolerance policy for late arrivals to work or rules restricting someone’s social media use while on the clock or when referencing their employment.
Companies also typically have many rules about what workers can do while on the clock at their jobs. Dress codes and appearance standards are common inclusions in modern employee handbooks, for workers in positions ranging from customer service to medical transcription.
Sometimes, employers hide subtly discriminatory standards in their dress codes. They can then punish those who can not or will not comply with those unfair or biased rules. If any of the three rules below are in effect at your workplace, they could be a sign of systemic discrimination.
A no-beard policy
People with different hair types and skin types may find hair removal more irritating than the average person.
For example, African-American men are more prone than white men to develop shaving irritation from the daily removal of facial and neck hair.
Company policies forcing workers to shave may be unfair to those who experience higher levels of irritation. They can also be unfair to those from a faith that restricts hair removal.
Prohibitions on head coverings
If your employer has a rule against workers covering their heads, that may violate the rights of workers in certain religions.
Muslim women, for example, frequently cover their hair as an expression of their faith and personal modesty. Those who belong to the Sikh faith may also wear colorful head coverings that are a statement of their religious beliefs.
When employers have policies that forbid people from following religious rules, those rules may be discriminatory.
Rules against protective hairstyles
The standard for what appears professional often has a basis in Eurocentric beauty standards. For decades, employers have required that workers straighten their hair to conform with company standards. Those rules are no longer permissible in California. Employers should avoid rules that prohibit workers from using natural or protective hairstyles that work with wavy and curly hair.
Identifying company policies that are actually subtle forms of racial or religious discrimination can help you fight back for better treatment on the job.