May an employer have a policy that prohibits male employees from wearing earrings?
Author: William Denham, Shortt & Nguyen, PC
Yes. An employer may adopt a personal appearance policy to support its desired public image, including prohibiting male employees from wearing earrings. However, certain state or local laws (e.g., California) may require that employers permit employees to appear or dress consistently with their gender identity or expression (e.g., a male employee who identifies as female may be allowed to wear earrings since that meets the employer's appearance policy).
Any appearance requirements should be based on a legitimate business need (e.g., public image, safety) and should be applied to all employees uniformly.
Exceptions to the policy may need to be made in order to accommodate an employee's religious belief or observance (including religious dress and grooming practices), medical condition or disability (e.g., it may be a reasonable accommodation to allow a male employee to wear earrings if there is a conflict between the policy and the employee's religious beliefs or practices).
All appearance requirements should be clearly outlined and communicated to all employees and supervisors.