February 12, 2019

Many companies have employee handbooks or stand-alone policies addressing what type of dress is required of employees.  I have reviewed many of these during my time with myHRcounsel, and I see a lot of prohibitions on wearing head gear or require a beard to be short.  While these policies may make great sense for most employees, there are times when an employer must be prepared to accommodate an employee based on that employee’s sincerely held religious belief.  For example, an outright ban on head gear could effectively stifle an employee’s ability to freely express the Muslim faith.  A strict policy regarding the length of employee’s beards could violate the Sikh religion’s code of conduct prohibiting followers from cutting their hair.  If you adopt a dress code policy that could prohibit an employee’s free expression of their religion through dress or grooming, be sure that you consider accommodating that employee to the extent possible unless doing so would cause an undue burden or create a safety issue.  Please consult with the attorneys at myHRcounsel to ensure that your dress code policy is compliant and for guidance on accommodations to these policies on the basis of religion. 

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