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Can employers require female employees to wear makeup at work?

Some women in Santa Monica enjoy wearing makeup while others decide it is not necessary for them. Women who regularly do not wear makeup may decide not to wear it to work.

Still, some employers have dress codes that include wearing makeup. Can female workers be required to wear makeup at work, even if they do not want to?

Makeup and Title VII

In general, an employer cannot require female employees to wear makeup, and they cannot subject the female employee to an adverse employment decision for not wearing makeup. This is considered sex discrimination.

Sex discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and women subjected to it can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This law protects women from being subject to discrimination based on their gender.

Employers cannot make an adverse employment decision based on a worker’s gender. This includes hiring, laying off, passing up for promotions, denying benefits and otherwise denying any other condition of employment.

Makeup as a “Bona Fide Occupational Qualification”

However, the Supreme Court ruled that there are situations in which employers can establish a grooming code that addresses makeup without violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

For example, as part of a dress code, female employees can be required to wear makeup or can be prohibited from wearing excessive makeup. This is because employers can require workers to look professional in the workplace.

This is especially true if employees work with the public. Some job sites that may include a makeup provision in their dress code include restaurants, television news stations and retail stores.

Still, wearing makeup must be a “Bona Fide Occupational Qualification” of the worker’s position. This means that wearing makeup must be reasonably necessary in the employee’s line of work. But if a makeup policy imposes an adverse effect on those of a certain race, the makeup policy is against the law.

Employers cannot arbitrarily require female employees to wear makeup. Female workers should not be subject to sex discrimination if they do not want to wear makeup. Still, if an employer can show that wearing makeup is a bona fide occupational qualification, they can include such provisions in their dress code.