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Comb Your Hair, for Goodness Sake!

March 21st, 2005 by Bob Bly

Do employers have the right to tell employees how to dress?

I?m not clear on whether employment laws say they do. But I think they should ? and now the city of Cheyenne apparently agrees with me.

Cheyenne?s municipal government is considering a ban on restaurant workers wearing nose rings, tongue rings, and other facial jewelry.

Reason: the Cheyenne Department of Health has had several cases of restaurant customers finding tongue rings in their food (though not yet in a tongue sandwich).

But even if a foolproof method could be found for preventing tongue rings from falling out, I think they should be banned in restaurants and most other professional workplaces.

Here?s my logic: your employer is paying you not just to perform a specific job function, but for your total contribution to her business.

Part of that contribution is the impression you make on customers. When you dress too casually or outrageously, that impression is negative ? and the business that pays your salary suffers.

Yes, I am a cranky curmudgeon. But I?m betting that you will agree with my on this one. Yes?


This entry was posted on Monday, March 21st, 2005 at 7:19 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

29 responses about “Comb Your Hair, for Goodness Sake!”

  1. Michael Hawkins said:

    Bob – I’m with you all the way! I think tongue rings fall in the ‘dress code’ category. And while I’m all for personal expression, there are limits.

    –Michael Hawkins

  2. Danny said:

    Okay…but where do the employer’s rights stop if they can dictate aspects of an employees appearance? What if, say, you got a tattoo on your hand or neck one stupid, drunken night ten years ago? What if the employer doesn’t like the shade of lipstick or nail polish you’re wearing (I’m not talking black or day-glo orange. What if he or she simply doesn’t think pink is professional?)? Can they demand that employees lose weight? Change their hair color? What if your clientele deems african-americans unprofessional? Or women?

    In my opinion (as a former hotel manager), until employers actually start paying their most crucial employees (those who actually deal with customers) decent wages–the service industry is abysmal at this–making such demands is ridiculous. You’re telling them that their job is the least important in the company, then expecting them to take pride in their work by dressing professionally. Insult to injury.

  3. Paula Richey said:

    When I worked (briefly) for a well-known restaurant, everyone was told exactly what to wear, right down to polished black shoes and minimal jewelry. My first day, I was informed that “minimal jewelry” meant no jewelry. That was still reasonable. Something I considered unreasonable was when the manager picked me to yell at one day, dragged me over to the “chore board” and screamed that I hadn’t done my chores as listed on the board. My name wasn’t even on the board, but he pointed to a man’s name and said I was supposed to be taking over his chore because he was a manager in training and had decided to do something else. I wasn’t being paid enough to take random abuse from a domineering manager, so I quit.

    In short, managers are the ones who will be enforcing the rules for the wait staff, and I believe that if they are properly trained there will be few problems with misinterpretation of any new regulations.

  4. Apryl Parcher said:

    Coming from a long line of business folk, both in service and retail industries, and having done my stint in Government service as well, I’ve seen it from all sides. I agree wholeheartedly that employers can (and should) be able to dictate how their employees appear to customers and/or the general public. Especially in the food service industry, cleanliness is not just a courtesy, but a requirement. When I walk into a restaurant and the waitstaff appear dishevelled, dirty, sporting various facial or other visible punctures, I walk right out again. I’m paying for and expect a pleasant dining experience, and being served by someone with an eyebrow ring, a bolt through the nose, hair in the face, or a surly attitude is not my idea of epicurian delight.

    I’ve seen what low expectations in the workplace can do. It’s neither pretty nor profitable. Good profits pay better salaries, last time I checked.

  5. Barbara Saunders said:

    I believe that the employer’s right to impose a look stops at the moment it affects the employee’s ability to look the way she wants off the job. Suit, tie, pantyhose, uniform, no jeans — those requirements about those may curb my fashion statements on the commuter bus, but they don’t affect my style on the weekend. The requirement that I don’t have a tongue ring (which, for the record, I personally don’t have and am moderately turned off to) at work imposes that the requirement that I can’t be a tongue-ringed guitar player in my band on Saturday night. Unreasonable — particularly since that employer can fire me tomorrow for no reason at all, and I still can’t be that tongue-ringed guitar player.

  6. Rob Gramer said:

    Business owners should have the right to tell their employees to do whatever it is they want them to do. Essentially, a boss is paying an employee for their time. If the employee doesn’t like what the boss says, then they can leave.

    With that said, I believe the more people are paid, the greater they will (and should be expected to) put up with.

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    I guess employers have the right to tell their employees how to dress because employess represent that company. If the employees were volunteers (non-paid) it would be different. On the payroll> Gotta go with the flow!

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