Protections Do Not Extend to Bolo-Wearing Workers

Article excerpt

Byline: On the Job by Bureau of Labor & Industries For The Register-Guard

Q: Our company dress code requires that all salesmen wear a tie. We now have an issue with a particular salesman who has started wearing bolo ties to work. Our written policy doesn't specify that this is prohibited, but we really want our sales staff to wear traditional silk - or at least cloth - ties. Would it be discriminatory to ban bolos?

A: Cowboys haven't attained protected class status under Oregon or federal discrimination laws, so prohibiting the bolo won't infringe on your employee's civil rights. But you might consider amending your policy so that it's more specific.

As an employer, you have the right to set your own dress code. Just be sure that you have a legitimate business reason for your policy and that you apply it in a nondiscriminatory manner.

You can certainly require that receptionists, sales staff and other employees who interact with customers present themselves in a manner consistent with the company image you want to portray. This may include a required uniform, limits on jewelry and visible tattoos, and restrictions on hair length and color (no purple or green, for instance).

In some cases, you may be obligated to make an exception to your dress code, where it would be a reasonable accommodation for an individual with a sincerely held religious belief.

Q: Our policy in the past has been to pay employees for up to eight weeks when they are on jury duty. However, we've been acquired by a larger corporation, and as of next year, we're no longer going to offer paid leave for jury duty. What happens if one of our salaried, exempt employees goes on jury duty?

A: Despite your policy change, you'll have to pay an exempt employee's full weekly salary if he or she is out on jury duty but still works part of the week.

The salary rules for exempt employees generally require you to pay their full day's salary when they work part of a day, and their full week's salary when they work part of a week. Oregon and federal wage regulations permit you to dock an exempt employee's salary only in a few scenarios, including when the exempt employee chooses to take a full day off for personal reasons and in some cases when the exempt employee misses a full day due to illness or disability. …