Can my boss legally ask me to remove my facial piercing while allowing other employees to keep theirs?

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Can my boss legally ask me to remove my facial piercing while allowing other employees to keep theirs?

My boss is demanding I take out my small stud lip piercing at the fast food place I work. However he is allowing other employees to keep their stud nose piercings because they are “artistic” and mine is “disgusting”. I haven’t signed a company policy or been shown any evidence against facial piercings.

Asked on February 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract? If you do not, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be disciplined, demoted, suspended, and/or terminated at any time, for any reason. In addition, employers have the right to 1) set dress, hygience, body art, piercing, etc. policies--which can include allowing nose studs but not lip studs, if the employer chooses--and 2) is under no obligation to treat all  employees the same, so long as it is not discriminating against a protected category (e.g. not discriminating on the basis of race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability).

Putting the above together, it would appear that your employer has the right to tell you to take  out your piercing even if it lets other employees keep their piercings, and to fire you if you do not.

Note: the employer does not need to show you any "evidence" against facial piercings--it is entitled to be arbitrary, if it chooses.


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