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Your questions answered: Can we enforce reasonable personal presentation standards?

By Portner Press on July 3rd, 2019
  1. Bullying, Harassment & Discrimination
  2. Discrimination in the workplace

Q
What are reasonable standards of presentation in the workplace?

For example, rainbow hair colour (may be political in nature), ‘excessive’ facial piercings, visible facial tattoos.

Our staff are serving customers and are the first impression of our business to the general community.

A
Most state legislation does not make discrimination on the basis of appearance unlawful. In Victoria, where such a ground of discrimination does exist, employers are able to set reasonable standards of dress and appearance for their employees.

What is considered ‘reasonable’ may depend on context, however given the customer-facing role, it is unlikely to be discriminatory to ask to remove piercings or cover tattoos.

Unless the reason that this person has coloured hair and tattoos is other than for mere appearance, you are unlikely to have discriminated against this person by requiring compliance with your new policy. If, as you state, the rainbow hair colour is related to political beliefs then you should be careful as taking steps against the employee could give rise to a discrimination claim.

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