Discrimination at work.

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Discrimination at work.

I was told by my boss to get a doctor’s note in
order for me to not shave daily at. I did so. We
had our normal meeting and addressed it since
I had a nice neat beard and she explained I had
a skin condition. Week later I get called I to the
office s d she threatens. Me either I shave
today or I can turn in my truck keys aka I’m
fired. Told her I wanted to escalate it and she
gave me out regional managers number which
I have left 2 voicemails but no reply.

Asked on January 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If you do have a verifiable medical condition that requires you to have a beard, have provided proof of it, and keep the beard as closely trimmed and neat as possible--as you indicate is the case--then you may generally not be forced to shave on threat of being fired (except in the case discussed further below). The law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations to employee medical condition; a reasonable accommodation includes changes in rules that do not disrupt the workplace or create risks; a relaxation or modification of grooming standards would be a reasonable accommodation, because the impact on operations is so slight and easily contained, in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, based on what you write, you may have a "disability"-related discrimination claim, and should contact the federal EEOC to discuss it.
There are a small number of jobs where a beard, even a neat one, may pose a risk or be disruptive; for example, my brother-in-law recently had to shave his entire beard but for a small goatee because he became a fire fighter and even a neatly-trimmed beard interferred with the way a respirator would seal around his face, increasing the risk of injury and lowering his effectiveness--he had to remove all hair wherever the edge of the respirator would touch. In a case like that, you could be required to shave on pain of termination.


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