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Grooming policy for employees may be illegal

Can an employer adopt a grooming policy that requires male workers who have contact with customers to be clean-shaven and have trimmed hair? Maybe … but this might amount to religious discrimination, according to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The worker in this case was a technician at a Jiffy Lube service station. He was a Rastafarian and his religion did not permit him to shave or cut his hair. The company told him that if he refused to abide by the grooming policy, he could only work in the lower bay and would not be allowed to have contact with customers.

 In the resulting lawsuit, the company argued that it shouldn’t be forced to make an exception for the worker because the company had a right to control its public image.  But the court ordered the case to go to trial. To win, the court said, Jiffy Lube would have to show that all conceivable accommodations of the employee’s religion would impose an “undue hardship” on its business.

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