Can my employer make me change my hairstyle?

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Can my employer make me change my hairstyle?

I got hired at a restaurant 2 days ago and now today the human resources manager asked me if I can change my hairstyle. The employee handbook states, “Hair should appear neat and conservative in style and color.” Does this mean they have the right to terminate me? It’s not fair that they hired me already and are putting me in this predicament to choose.

Asked on June 29, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I'm afraid the you better sharpen your scissors.  The fact is that an employer can enforce rules about how an employee looks – including hairstyles. It is up to an employer's discretion, especially if the job involves interaction with the public. In customer service positions, an employer has a keen interest in how their employee's look on the job. In "at will" employment situations an employer can hire/fire, reduce/increase salary/hours and otherwise impose reuqiements as it sees fit. Bottom line, unless your employer's actions violate its own company policy, or a union/employment contract, or is in some way , it is breaking no laws in your case.


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