Discrimination in the Workplace

I couldn't work for two weeks because I shaved my head.


Kylee Roberts

Discrimination in the Workplace
I couldn’t work for two weeks because I shaved my head.

About two weeks ago, I made the decision to shave my head. It was new and exciting and I felt good about myself. To my surprise, after posting a picture of my new look to Facebook I got a text from my manager saying he needed to see me for a meeting sometime. When I went to see him, he told me that I couldn’t work until my hair grew out at least ¼ of an inch, because the owner thought my hairstyle was “unprofessional.”

Now, I could understand the consequences if I had shaved my head while having an office job, but I work at a fast food restaurant as a server where wearing a hat is part of the dress code. From the dress code paper I remember signing when I first started, there was no rule saying that the employees could not shave their heads. I was upset and confused, but mostly I felt discriminated against.

Along with myself, many of my co-workers, family, and friends, though it was ridiculous that I couldn’t work because of the way I looked. I had already shaved part of my hair before, and there was no issue. Additionally, in the past, my employer has hired a man with long hair, he simply just had to wear a hairnet. Why was I punished for shaving my head? While I have no plans of filing any complaints or lawsuits, I decided to do some research.

Upon researching Missouri labor laws, I found the Missouri Human Rights Act. This act states that an employer cannot discriminate in any aspect of employment. While there are some labor laws that could trump the Act (like the No Fault law), it is still unfair that my employers wouldn’t let me work for two weeks.

I am now back on the schedule at my work and have no plans of quitting, but the respect I had for my employers has dissipated completely and now I worry for the future. I’m worried about doing anything for myself, in fear that I will be fired, or cut off from working again. I can only hope that my employers will be more open-minded.