Does a business owner have a right to request via company policy that an employee who is front of their customers follow certain dress and hair policies set forth in a company manual and explained to all potential employees?

A bill sponsored by State Representative Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, House Bill 4811, would add language into Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include hair texture and protective hairstyles as “traits historically associated with race.”

The language in Section 103 (I) of the bill states:

“Race” is inclusive of traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.  For purposes of this definition, “protective hairstyles” includes, but is not limited to, such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.

The language in the above section that concerns me is “but is not limited to”.  How do you have language in a bill that is completely open to interpretation and unlimited hairstyles?

The Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act is:

An Act to define civil rights; to prohibit discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of those rights based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, or marital status…

In a statement, State Representative Anthony stated:

As a woman of color, I know people often judge me by the way I look—my perceived gender, my skin color, but also, my natural hair,” said Anthony. “It can be so easy to succumb to the pressure to present ourselves in certain ways to mitigate the biases of others, but that prevents us from being the best, most successful version of ourselves. My bill brings us one step closer to being a state where everyone feels empowered to celebrate who they truly are.

The question still remains, should a business owner have the right to request via company policy a certain manner of dress and hair styles if an employee with be in front of their customers?

Or we can certainly go down the path of not informing an employee of why they are being let go, remember Michigan is an “at will” state when it comes to employment.

At-will employment in Michigan is a labor law for contractual relationships in which an employee can be dismissed by an employer for any reason, meaning without having to establish "just cause" for termination.  Also you can be dismissed without warning, as long as the reason is not illegal for example firing someone because of their race, religion or whatever else is covered via the Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

Do we really not want to give the employee a chance to either follow company procedures or be let go without reason?

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