Women who work at the luxury Dorchester hotel in London are reportedly up in arms about a list of grooming rules that includes to “wear full makeup,” “have regular manicures,” and “wear deodorant,” and to not have “oily skin.”
“It is disgusting. This list is like something out of the Dark Ages and downright offensive,” an unnamed employee told the Daily Mail. “It’s not as though you choose to have oily skin, and a lot of women, especially teenagers, cannot help it — no facial wash or moisturizer in the world can control that.”
Added the source: “The women are all pretty livid but worry that if they complain — or rebel and turn up to work with chipped, dirty nails and hairy legs, for example — they’ll be sacked on the spot.”
The list of rules for female employees that apparently prompted some to complain at the $900-a-night Dorchester is as follows, according to the Daily Mail:
- Shave your legs (even if wearing tights)
- Wear full makeup
- Wash your hair
- Brush your teeth
- Use deodorant
- Have regular manicures
- Have oily skin
- Wear overly garish or bright makeup
- Display chipped or bitten nails
- Have off-putting body odor
- Display any excess body hair, which includes the face
A Dorchester publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Yahoo Beauty, but Roland Fasel, the hotel’s general manager and U.K. regional director, told Indy100: “The Dorchester has a proud community of employees who uphold world-leading hospitality standards including grooming, in line with many other brands. All new applicants, both men and women, are sent a copy of our grooming standards in advance of interview.”
Recent stories about similar grooming codes at work have included one about a woman in Canada who decided against showing up for a job interview at a Body Shop in Toronto after she was instructed via email to appear in a full face of makeup, as is required by all women working in the stores. And in September, an appeals court set a worrisome precedent about employee rules by upholding an Alabama insurance company’s right to ban a woman from wearing dreadlocks at work, despite the racial and cultural implications as argued on behalf of the employee by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
While laws on what’s permitted regarding employee grooming and dress codes may differ in the U.K., they are generally legal in the U.S., unless they discriminate based on gender.
“For the most part these dress codes are legal as long as they are not discriminatory,” notes the website for the nonprofit organization Workplace Fairness. “For example, men and women can have different dress codes if the dress codes do not put an unfair burden on one gender. However, even if a dress code is discriminatory, an employer does not need to make exceptions for certain employees if doing so would place an undue burden on the employer. For example, if someone’s religion said they could not wear pants but they worked at a factory that required them to wear pants, a court would likely side with the employer, as the pants are for the employee’s safety.”
The Dorchester told Indy100 that there are also grooming standards for men, who are required to have clean, manicured nails as well. But it’s unclear how unequal the rules are for men versus women.