Can a employer force one to shave a beard?

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Can a employer force one to shave a beard?

I was hired with a beard and have worked for my current employer for four years. Now I am told to be clean shaven and I don’t want to shave my face. Can I be forced to shave?

Asked on March 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes, this is legal. As a general rule, a company can set the terms and conditons of employment much as it sees fit. This is true so long as such conditions are not discriminatory or violate an employment agreement or union agreement, etc. Accordingly, if your beard is part of your religious practice or if you have a medical reason that requires you to wear a beard, you may have a legal argument to keep it. Otherwise, I'm afraid that it has to go...at least if you want to keep your job.


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