General Question

tobytobsen's avatar

Is my Boss allowed to tell me to shave?

Asked by tobytobsen (27points) October 17th, 2007 from iPhone

I have pretty sensitive skin and not a lot of beard. I shave every Sunday before church but I like having a little ruff beard – specially for the weekend. My boss wants me to shave more often, but I think that this affects my out of office life to much. I have to add that i am a programmer and that we have little to none clients visiting unexpected our office.

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11 Answers

Perchik's avatar

I’ve always had issues with my bosses telling me how to appear when I am a programmer who spends all day in a cubicle with no interaction with clients. However, I think you have to do what your boss says

xgunther's avatar

It may be required as per your employee handbook.

kevbo's avatar

Tell him to show you the company’s policy on grooming where it says you need to shave.

tobytobsen's avatar

my boss is actually the CEO… So no Chanche here?

woodlandanimals's avatar

He can say whatever he wants, but at some point you are going to have to define your expectations to him. respectfully defying an employer can sometimes increase your value from Cattle to Peer. It needs to be done in exactly the right way, but i have had lots of luck with these “Office Space” moments.

The other option is dressing up in proportion to your scruffiness. I wear a tie on days i don’t shave or have beadhead (our office is business casual, and the boss never wears ties). This totally works for me, but results may very.

sjg102379's avatar

Legally speaking, yes, unless it’s for religious or medical reasons (and even then, different courts come down differently on the issue).

cwilbur's avatar

If you have a contract (you probably don’t) or you’re in a right-to-work state (and you probably aren’t), then your boss can fire you for any reason whatsoever so long as it isn’t a reason forbidden by law. So yes, he can legally fire you for not shaving, unless it’s done for religious or disability reasons (and it doesn’t sound like it—it sounds like you just don’t like to shave).

How important is this to you? You need to change yourself or change your environment—and if your boss can’t be changed, changing your environment means finding a new boss.

jca's avatar

i think you have to pick your battles with any boss. you have to determine how much you want to challenge him on this (or any) issue. there’s a fine line between not getting walked all over by a boss and not wanting to start a war. depending on the circumstances you work under (i.e. contract, can you be fired easily) depends on how you treat this issue. i am a civil servant, union shop steward, hard to fire, but i don’t challenge my boss on everything. you can always “yes” him and then return to your present way of shaving in the future. if you have a good relationship with him you could approach him and ask him to clarify what’s expected of you appearance-wise. if you’re a hard to get rid of employee, like if you work under a contract, you could challenge him. my feeling on challenging him is to be careful how you do it because you could start him busting your chops on other things, like if you come in late occasionally, or if your work is not up to par in other areas. if he does not like your challenging him, for example by asking him “show me where it says i have to shave” he might all of a sudden start nit picking in other areas of your job performance. while it may be illegal for him to request you shave, there are ways he can “get you” if you win this battle. so evaluate your relationship with him and how cool he is, and determine whether this issue is worth the challenge or if it’s easier handled another way. you do have to continue working for him and so it’s a fine line…..or you could challenge him and see what happens and if he really becomes a ballbuster just look for another job. that will also come into play with your decision, how much you like your job and want to remain. you may win the battle but lose the war.

glosski's avatar

What’s the issue? You’re hired to do a certain task, during certain hours, at a certain location for a certain amount of money. That your employer expects you to present a certain image shouldn’t be that tough of a concept. If you don’t want to shave, find another job where that employer doesn’t expect you to shave and then you will both be happy… why is it automatically assumed that the employer should get less than what they are paying for? Did you interview with whiskers? He hired the guy he interviewed and that’s who he expects to see showing up for a paycheck.

Perchik's avatar


The problem as I see it, is that appearance does not dictate performance. You can wear a three piece suit, shave every morning, and have super white teeth, but if you can’t do the job then it doesn’t matter. I hate how the world says you have to look good to do a job. It’s pointless for me (or toby for that matter) as a programmer, to dress up and look clean cut. We spend countless hours in front of a computer screen (which by the way doesnt care how we look). Google has proven that programmers actually work more efficiently when they are allowed to be comfortable at work. (what a thought)

And the last time I checked, employers hire people to do a job. Not to look good. This is the problem with everything corporate. Too much focus is put on how things look, instead of how they perform.

jca's avatar

Perchik, you are right that appearance does not dictate performance, but your boss’s opinion of you may dictate whether or not you continue working for him, or whether or not you get a raise. it’s unfortunate that this is the way it is, but if the employee does not like it he can always look for another job. the employee has to consider each aspect of his job and how tolerable it all is. if there is any part of his job that he finds unbearable, he is free to look elsewhere for work. there are pros and cons with every job, and the employee has to consider each. maybe this is a great job in every other way, in which case maybe the employee should just shave twice a week instead of once and drop the subject. if the boss is terrible and unreasonable about his expectations, he’ll have trouble keeping employees.

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