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“No Earrings” Policy Unreasonable
October 25, 2006

An arbitration board recently struck down Casino Niagara’s policy prohibiting male security guards from wearing earrings at work. The Board found that an employer’s right to preserve its image by regulating employee appearance must be balanced against employees’ interests in determining their own appearance.

The Casino argued the policy was necessary to ensure a “crisp and professional” image for its customers. It relied on a survey adduced as evidence in an earlier arbitration, which reported that 19% of grocery store customers felt that earrings on male employees detracted from cleanliness and neatness. The Board rejected this evidence because it was taken in a different business context many years earlier.

The Board held that it was not sufficient for the Casino to simply claim that the policy was necessary to preserve its image without providing evidence of an adverse impact. In the absence of objective evidence establishing a potential or actual adverse impact on the employer’s health, safety or business interests, the Board concluded that the Casino failed to show that the policy was reasonable.

(Click here for copy of Decision)