Can my employer tell me I can’t make eye contact with their Arab clients?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can my employer tell me I can’t make eye contact with their Arab clients?

I was told that I’m not to make eye contact with Arab clients. Basically, I am supposed to look at the ground. I’m an American working in America and I don’t feel that I should have to do that. I find it degrading and sexist. Can the company ask me to do that if they wouldn’t ask that of a man? Isn’t that sexual harrassment? If I refuse and they fire me do I have recourse?

Asked on April 23, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot, unless they tell ALL employees, male and female, to not look Arab clients in the eye; in that event, there is no discrimination. 
But if they only tell a female employee or employees to do this, it IS illegal workplace discrimination: treating women differently because of their sex/gender. That is not allowed under the law, and you could file a discrimination complaint with the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency if they insist you do this or retaliate against you for not doing it. You could recover monetary compensation for the discrimination.
The Arab client is free to not look you in the eye--that's his business. But the company cannot make women keep eyes downcast.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption