Employers in Canada have the right to run their businesses as they see fit, including how their employees wear their hair.
Labour and employment lawyer Muneeza Sheikh said given how ethnically diverse Canadians are, defining exactly what work-appropriate hair is could be quite a slippery slope for employers drafting dress code policies.
Employers are not legally bound to go beyond asking their employees to show up to work with ‘clean and professional’ hair, meaning they don’t have to specifically define what that looks like.
Sheikh said as long as there is ambiguity around the language in dress code policies it doesn’t violate a person’s basic human rights to ethnicity, gender and religion, then it’s fair game.
“It is up for interpretation and perhaps with changing management the interpretation of what is clean and professional can change on a day-to-day basis,” Sheikh said.
CityNews reported last week on a story about a Zara employee who felt discriminated against because of her braids. This led to others reaching out with similar situations.