Is Blue Hair a Protected Characteristic?

A Kantola Learning Minute


An HR manager writes, "I've got a worker with blue hair. Even though it may not be a problem in Berkeley or Brooklyn she's getting some flack here. I know blue hair isn't a protected characteristic, but she's also rather heavy. What should I do?" Find out in this week's Learning Minute with workplace trainer Linda Garrett, JD.




Transcript:
Hi, I'm Linda Garrett. We have an interesting question from someone who writes, "I've got a worker with blue hair. Even though it might not be a problem in Berkeley or Brooklyn she's getting some flack here. I know blue hair isn't a protected characteristic, but she's also rather heavy. What should I do?"

Well, here's the thing: You're right, blue hair isn't in a protected characteristic. But the problem is that she's being singled out and she's being picked on and ostracized and treated differently. That's always going to be a problem for a manager because that undermines teamwork and morale and, after a while, you're going to have her either decide to leave or not be able to work with others.

So, here's what I would do: I would immediately talk to with her coworkers and point out to them that they are violating your policy that everyone be treated with dignity and respect, whether it's a written or unwritten policy, so it doesn't really matter that something's not illegal under federal or state law. The fact that she's being picked on is something that is well within your rights to address and put a stop to.

Thanks for joining us.


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