Is it legal to be laid off because of the way you look?

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Is it legal to be laid off because of the way you look?

My father is being laid off his job at a private school because of the way he looks.

He has long hair and a small beard. His supervisor told him this was the reason.

He is an immigrant and has worked in this workplace for over a decade. Is this

any kind of infringement and can we legally pursue anything? Is it worth legally

pursuing? What category does this fall under?

Asked on May 19, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Most employment relationships are "at will". This means that a  company can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. That is unless an employment contract/union agreement states otherwise or if such action constitutes some form of actionable discrimination. In regard to the latter, discrimination based on someone's disability, gender, age (over 40) religion race or natioanlity is illegal. Accordingly, if your father's treatment is actually due to his race or nationality (you mentioned that he is an immigrant), then that would be give rise to a valid claim. If, however, his having long hair and a beard violates company policy (existing or newly enacted), then his firing is legal and he has no recourse. At this point, he can consult directly with a local attorney who can best advise him further after reviewing all of the details of the situation.


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