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Hijabs, Dreadlocks, And More: Appearance Policy Drafting And Enforcement Tips To Stay Out Of Legal Trouble

Webinar: ID# 1037079
Recorded On-Demand
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Are you annoyed by your employees’ appearance? Are they sporting too much facial hair, dreadlocks, or even turbans or hijabs? Do you feel this detracts and goes against your dress code or grooming policy?

Hold on. Oftentimes requiring your employees to conform to a certain look can result in a discrimination lawsuit that can end up costing your organization. There are legal limits on what you can require of employees whose religion requires them to dress in a certain manner.

California employers have to be aware of and sensitive to the religious needs of their employees under the law. The California Workplace Religious Freedom Act (WRFA) of 2012 mandates that employers must reasonably accommodate their employees’ religious requirements, including clothing, head or face covering, jewelry, or other religion-related artifacts.

Employers may have a grooming or dress code policy that employees sign on for when they’re hired. However, as the Supreme Court case between the EEOC and Abercrombie and Fitch demonstrated, that policy may have to be adjusted to avoid discriminating against someone for their religion. In that case, a young Muslim woman was interviewed for the job with Abercrombie and Fitch wearing a hijab. Although the interviewer never asked her if the head covering was related to her religious beliefs, it was assumed. However, the employer decided not to hire her based on their neutral policy that employees were not supposed to wear head coverings. The Supreme Court decided that, even though they did not ask about the young woman’s religious beliefs, the company erred in not hiring her because of the hijab.

Crafting your dress code and grooming policies can be a tricky business, and you want to avoid legal missteps while still remaining true to your “brand.” It’s important to know what you can and cannot include in your grooming and dress code policies, and how to address situations that may require some flexibility. You want to avoid a civil rights lawsuit based on religious discrimination.

Join us for the do’s and don’ts regarding your appearance policy to stay out of legal trouble, especially in employee friendly California. Attorney Miranda Watkins of Fisher Phillips’ San Diego office will explain how to craft and interpret your policies with an eye to staying out of legal trouble.What You'll Learn:
  • Draft a grooming/dress policy that allows for flexibility regarding religious beliefs
  • Reasonably enforce the dress and grooming code, with adjustments for sincere religious beliefs where possible
  • Address safety concerns regarding hair, hijabs, or other religious emblems, and find alternatives if needed
  • Explain the reasoning when there is a safety hazard that precludes someone from being put in a dangerous position
  • Determine if an accommodation for religion constitutes “undue hardship” and justifies a denial of an accommodation
  • Address scheduling adjustments where possible, without providing an unending stream of religious holidays, but perhaps providing time off, paid or unpaid
  • Enforce grooming policies without stepping on religious beliefs
  • Avoid retaliating against employees who request religious accommodations
  • Communicate tolerance and professionalism to avoid confrontations in the workplace over differing opinions about religious beliefs
  • And much more!
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Hijabs, Dreadlocks, And More: Appearance Policy Drafting And Enforcement Tips To Stay Out Of Legal Trouble
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