Employee Grooming Standards
Adams Stirling PLC


Grooming standards are important to employers but often resented by employees. In Jerspersen v. Harrah's Operating Co., 444 F.3d 1104 (9th Cir. 2006), the U.S. Court of Appeals clarified what may be considered proper workplace grooming standards. Jespersen sued because Harrah's required women to wear makeup such as face powder, blush, mascara and lip color even though men were not required to do so. She considered the requirement discriminatory.

The court decided that the material issue was not whether the policies for men and women are different, but whether the policy imposed an unequal burden on women. The court ruled in favor of Harrah's because their standards imposed equal burdens on both men and women. Even so, the court cautioned that makeup requirements must be reasonable in the context of the overall standards imposed on employees in a given workplace.

Harrah's grooming standards included the following:

  • Hair must not extend below top of shirt collar. Ponytails are prohibited.

  • hands and fingernails must be clean and nails neatly trimmed at all times.

  • No colored polish is permitted.

  • Eye and facial makeup is prohibited.

  • Shoes will be solid black leather or leather type with rubber (non skid) soles.


  • Hair must be teased, curled or styled every day you work. Hair must be worn down at all times, no exceptions.

  • Stockings are to be of nude or natural color consistent with employee's skin tone. No runs.

  • Nail polish can be clear, white, pink or red color only. No exotic nail art or length.

  • Shoes will be solid black leather or leather type with rubber (non skid) soles.

  • Make up (face powder, blush and mascara) must be worn and applied neatly in complimentary colors. Lip color must be worn at all times.)

In addition, jewelry was restricted to simple jewelry (no large chokers, chains or bracelets) and hairstyles were restricted to no faddish hairstyles or unnatural colors.

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Adams Stirling PLC