CTV News reported this week that a 64-year-old WestJet employee quit her job with the airline rather than change her hairstyle after they requested her to do so.
Janet Moore, who wears a short, spiky multi-toned hairstyle (brown and blonde), refused to comply with a request to adjust her hair colour when the company stated it wanted public-facing employees to put forth a more "professional, consistent approach" in their appearance.
Moore expressed that she has had this hairstyle and colour since was hired by WestJet. The company is rolling out new uniforms for its staff in the new year and has begun taking steps about individual employee appearance as part of that roll-out.
The company did not fire her, but rather offered to help her create a new hairstyle. Moore was not willing to make the compromise:
“They told me that the policy’s always been there, they’ve just been very lax about it,” Moore told CTV News. "I felt I had to resign on principle. I felt offended and personally attacked, and I felt I had no choice but to resign because the ultimatum would have been that I had to be dismissed. I would not change my hair. It's me. It's who I am. It defines me." Source: CTV News Calgary
Other businesses that have recently made news related to their employee appearance policies include:
Behringer claims that she has been discriminated against by potential employers due to her 22 visible piercings. Lawyers and HR professionals have stated that the likelihood of her campaign leading to legislative change is very unlikely.
Lauren Friese, founder of TalentEgg.ca (an HR recruiting firm that specializes in student jobs and internships), commented that although an individual may feel they are being attacked for the way that they choose to express themselves, that is missing the key point. "Companies work very hard to create a specific image and employees should be prepared to represent that."
Clear Path's Margaret Sullivan Williams concurs: "A business has the right to set standards on how their employees, particularly public-facing ones, appear before their customers. This can apply to both dress code and cleanliness. They can expect team members to appear in a way that is appropriate for their clients and the brand image the company is working to convey. However, if they are setting restrictions, they should ensure that it is "bona fide" for their particular business."
Want to learn more about employee policies?
Clear Path is hosting a seminar titled "Establishing Rules of the Game: Building an Effective Employee Policy Manual" on November 6th, 2014. You'll learn what makes an effective policy manual, what elements are critical, what new elements you should include (internet use, needs of a multi-faith workforce), and what recent legislation you need to ensure you are in compliance with. Click here to learn more.
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