can you be fired for growing a beard

CJC Compliance, Employer Trends, HR News, Terminations

Given the facial fur trend, ranging from hipsters and gamers to technology industry titans and sports heros, the topic of employment terminations for beard growth is long overdue.

After our views of a recent AP News re-post of a Muslim police officer scoring a win against the NYPD skyrocketed, we are taking a look at the employee and employer side of the argument.

You can be fired for growing a beard – true or false? 

True: you can absolutely be fired for growing a beard if it is not for religious reasons. And by religious reasons, we are referring to legitimate religions. The fact that your ‘dog spoke to you in a dream and you realized he was your God and the only way he would accept you as his disciple would be to grow a beard’ probably wouldn’t fly in court (but certainly has a better chance if the judge has a beard).

This may draw ire from Beard Team USA, and any of those who find a beard a necessary form of self-expression. But for the time being, facial hair-bearing aficionados should check out or inquire about employer policies before considering taking a job (or even an interview).

Enforcing Employer Policies on Beard Length

The NYPD says it bans beards longer than 1 millimeter for safety measures, citing the requirements of gas masks to fit tightly onto the face.

In consideration of the EEOC’s concept of “Undue Hardship”, candidates and employees may struggle with gainful employment – even with a religious reason – if the employer provides consistent maintenance of a “No Beard Policy” and it is for safety reasons, but employers best take a hard look at employer practices before raising the issue. The Muslim police officer who sued the NYPD found success by way of inconsistencies in policy enforcement. Like any other employer policy, if it isn’t enforced consistently, it will likely be deemed irrelevant.

My Beard = My Freedom

Truth is, from a policy trend standpoint, flexibility is on the rise. Talent, particularly in the technology sector, is getting tougher and tougher to source. Employers know that having a “No Beard Policy” in place for reasons ‘just because’ is only going to reduce the eligible candidate pool (not to mention draw ire from Beard Team USA).

Employers should consider qualifications for candidates above all, and beard wearers should consider that not all of your employer’s clients may be open minded enough to see past the beard.

What do you think?

To Beard or not to Beard, that is the question…

Employers: Need help with policy interpretation or development? Contact CJC HR Services at info@cjchrservices.com or (212)584-4770