Tag: Dress Codes

HAIR CUT JOB QUALIFICATIONS

Sometimes you cannot get the lyrics out of your head:

Gimme a head with hair
Long, beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming
Streaming, flaxen, waxen

Give me down to there (Hair!)
Shoulder length or longer hair (Hair!)
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair (Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair!)
Grow it, show it
Long as I can grow it
My hair

I let it fly in the breeze
And get caught in the trees
Give a home for the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas
A hive for the buzzin’ bees (buzzin’ beeeeeeeesssss)
A nest for birds
There ain’t no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder
Of my…

Hair (Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair! Hair!)
Grow it, show it
Long as I can grow it
My hair

Hair lyrics © Emi U Catalog Inc., Channel H Productions, 1969, sung by the Cowsills (the “bubblegum pop” band of the 1960s that may have inspired the television show The Partridge Family).

In Markowski v BYU, Memorandum Decision and Order Granting Summary Judgment (D. Utah, 2022), the Plaintiff was employed as a trainer of full-time missionaries.  Her specialty was use of social media.  The Defendant university’s dress code applied to employees and probably students.  The Plaintiff cut her hair short.  Six weeks later, Plaintiff was informed her hair cut was “not feminine enough” and “was too masculine.”  There was a complaint about her eyebrows as well.  Although Plaintiff indicated she would grow her hair out, she was fired.  To qualify for her position, the Plaintiff had completed her own eighteen-month missionary assignment and the training required for the mission.  She also had other required training.  Her job required her to teach church doctrine using the parent church’s social media systems.  Plaintiff claimed discrimination on the basis of sex because male employees were allowed to bleach their hair blond, disparate treatment, and “failing to fulfill traditional sex stereotypes.”  The federal trial court granted summary judgment to the Defendant.  The court held that Plaintiff’s position had a “vital role in advancing the religious mission” of the Defendant and the position was “explicitly religious in nature.”  Thus, the Ministerial Exception barred the claim.  The court relied upon Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & Sch. v EEOC, 565 US 171 (2012).  The court held the position performed “vital religious duties” and was barred.  For this aspect of the Ministerial Exception inquiry the court relied on Our Lady of Guadalupe School v Morrissey-Berru, 140 S.Ct. 2049 (2020).

Explicit dress codes can be enforced on ministerial staff and nearly all employees.  Most secular businesses and government offices can do so, too, so this should come as no surprise to even new and young employees.  Most churches in the US appear to have abandoned all dress codes, at least during worship services, although less so for professional clergy in some denominations and traditions, but this should not mislead anyone to think that they are unenforceable in the denomination and or tradition that still recognizes the necessity of dress codes.  The case reminded this author of a more innocent time when changing hair styles were the subject of controversy and song lyrics.