UnderCover Waitress: Men With Long Hair

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Men With Long Hair

Ask the Waitress!

This came in as a comment under Hooters Lawsuit Settlement, California.

"my boyfriend works at the hooters casino in vegas, as a dealer. he has long hair, and its shaved underneath because his hir is to thick and he gets hot. his hair has been like this sence he was in middle school. hes 27 now. hes beeen working at hooters for just about a year now, some company just bought them, and there threating his job if he doesnt cut his hair, telling him he cant were it in a pony tail. but the dress code say that boys have to have ther hair no longer than there shirt coller, ans it is longer than that but only by 2 inches, thats where he likes it. so he puts it up in a pony tail, and it it meets the length requirement. looks professional, hes been doint it for almost a year now. but all of the sudden they have a problem with it. what can he do?"

Oy. The short answer is: Not a whole heck of a lot. 

At-will employees have very few rights, which is why so many employers prefer this arrangement. If you have an employment contract or are part of a union, you can always go over the contract or check with the union lawyer. 

At-will employees are protected by federal guidelines from discrimination on the basis of gender, religious affiliation, race, national origin, and disability. Some states add to this list; for example, in Vermont sexual orientation is a protected status. 

At-will employers may hire and fire people for any reason and no reason, as long as it is not a protected reason. You may not be fired in any state for being Hispanic; you may not be fired in Vermont for being gay; you may be fired in any state for refusing to wear an ugly uniform. 

Hair length is considered part of a company's dress code, and a private employer may require short hair or clean-shaven faces for men. Lack of compliance with a company's dress code may result in termination of employment.

Okay, let's look at the various and sundry things people might try to fight the short hair for men code: 

1) Religion. I guess you could try claiming hair length was part of your religion, but you would bear the burden of proof. That means it would be your responsibility to convince the court that there really is a religion that requires hair length and that you are a bona-fide, practicing member. 

2) Gender. If women can wear their hair long, why not men? Because this society has already set the precedent that dress codes for men and women differ. Also, if you walk into a court room claiming appearance discrimination as a male Hooters employee you will become the laughing stock of the court -- I'm serious. If you are a dude who wants to make a point with Hooters, apply to be a waiter. Then, sue.

Appearance discrimination is not technically a legal cause of action, but it is something that has been looked at because more attractive people seem to get jobs more easily. 

One lawyer actually wrote in response to this question, "You can keep your sweet pony tail or your job, but not both." This was taken down by administrators because the entire answer was offensive and insulting; I admit I laughed at the lawyer for putting it this way. You'd think professionals answering questions on a public forum might behave in such a way as to generate business, not drive it away. And, you'd be wrong. 

Respectfully, your boyfriend can try reasoning with the employer, but the employer is within the law to fire him over non-compliance with the dress code. Perhaps he can remind them of his great work over the past year and what a reliable, well-liked employee he is? Best of luck to you both. 

The people who answer questions on Avvo.com are (supposed to be) real lawyers with real licenses to practice law. I, on the other hand, am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.  I do not give legal advice. I'm just a stupid waitress. ;-D


  1. Reading that note the first time around, I was shaking my head in dismay at the writing... then I thought that some of the words you'd expect to be misspelled were right, and others were wrong.

    Hooters has a casino?

    1. Yeah, I copied it verbatim.

      It seems that just about anything and everything includes a casino in Vegas, so I wasn't surprised...

  2. Coming in 2013 to the Strip: Sesame Street Blackjack & Tables.

    1. Ernie should be dealer. He always had a trick or two up his sleeve to fool Bertt...

  3. My husband is Native American and has had his hair long his whole life. We were considering moving to Nevada because he has been in the Gaming industry for 15 years and is in charge at one of our local casinos. His hair is always pulled back and braided. Does his cultural upbringing hold up to any of these exceptions?

    1. Good question. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, color, and sex. National origin and religion seem relevant. However, he is not yet hired. If he applies, claims he will not cut his hair based on national origin, religion, or both, and didn't get hired, you would bear the burden of proof that his hair was the reason he didn't get hired. The employer may claim it was a different reason.

    2. Thank you for your response :-)


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