Legal Question in Discrimination Law in California

Men and earrings

A man started a position at an office, where he was told in his first week that for safety reasons, he was not allowed to wear his diamond stud earring. When he forgot to remove the earring (worn over the weekend) he was told that if he wore it again he could be written up. He noticed that the supervisor, a woman, was wearing a larger pair of earrings. He asked her ''if this is a safety precaution, why are you wearing earrings much larger than my stud?'' She told him in exact words, ''because I am a woman and we can wear them.'' He told her that he thought that that type of thing was discriminatory. She told him that if he had a problem with it, he needed to ''suck it up.'' She continued saying that offices get away with it all the time, and if he started rocking the boat he could lose his job. If an employee is told that he cannot wear an earring or earrings for safety reasons, should that reasoning also apply to a woman, and if so is there a case for discrimination if he lost his job over it?

Asked on 5/14/01, 2:16 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Michael Kirschbaum Law Offices of Michael R. Kirschbaum

Re: Men and earrings

You raise an interesting question. Normally, employers do have the right to set grooming standards, i.e. no facial hair, etc. However, in this day and age, where the wearing of jewelry crosses gender, it is possible that a double standard may exist, which would be discriminatory, unless the employer can demonstrate a legitimate business reason for the policy. They claim it is for "safety" reasons. But I cannot imagine how this may apply to an office job. It sounds discriminatory to me. You should either contact the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or a local employment lawyer to investigate further, and, possibly contact the company on your behalf.

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Answered on 5/15/01, 12:43 pm

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