To Shave or Not to Shave For An Employment Opportunity

When it comes to exploring employment opportunities, a person considers multiple variables on what job suits them. Their choice of employment may be contingent on location, salary, benefits, and upwards mobility within the company or business. What if you found the job you were seeking, but the job offer depended on one thing you did not anticipate being a requirement? That one thing would be to shave your man mane off! Believe it or not there are certain employers that have no beards or long hair in the professional appearance and grooming policies. Let’s take a deeper look at this issue.

There are published federal and state dress code and grooming laws for the workplace. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) published the Religious Garb and Grooming in the Workplace: Rights and Responsibilities. This particular EEOC publication addresses what steps employers take to adhere to the laws associated with religious grooming practices and dress . Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to any practice that is motivated by a religious belief, even if other people may engage in the same practice for secular reasons.[2]However, if a dress or grooming practice is a personal preference, for example, where it is worn for fashion rather than for religious reasons, it does not come under Title VII’s religious protections. This simply states that wearing a beard or facial hair is protected under this law if it is established that wearing it is based on religious reasons. For more on this federal law, click here

In regards to facial hair in the workplace, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Dress Codes and Grooming states the following:

  1. Employers can always require employees to appear at work with a neat and clean appearance, including combed or brushed hair, bathed, and wearing clean clothes.
    1. A no-facial hair policy for men is permissible under the above guidelines (business image, safety rules, and so on), but an employer may need to make a reasonable accommodation for certain individuals, such as men with pseudofolliculitis barbae (a skin condition common with some minorities) and those whose religious practices may require wearing of a beard. Accommodation questions of these types should be discussed with an experienced employment law attorney.

Based on the TWC guidelines, the employer has the discretion to make a”reasonable accommodation” for an employee for medical condition as well as religious. Some black men suffer from pseudofolliculitis barbae which is a condition in which shaving causes skin irritation and bumps. The facial hair can not only mask the bumps but also prevent the irritation caused by routine shaving.

There are certain jobs that require the male employees to have no facial hair such as the military and some law enforcement jobs. When it comes to seeking employment, beard bearing guys have to take into consideration the employer’s dress codes and grooming policy. To shave or not to shave? Your employment opportunity may depend on it.

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