55

I'm interested in changing my hair color to something a little outside of the norm, but I'm not 100% sure if it is ok for me to do so.

When I was still a temp working for the company, I had been hired with Blue/Purple hair. Within the first week someone who works for the client company had informed the temp Agency and had them contact me - I was told to dye it back to a normal color or I would be fired. No one from the client company talked to me directly for this.

The problem here for me is that I have seen countless people in the company with the same hair color as what I was made to change. An internal flier has even been released in the elevator hallways showing one employee with bright blue hair, and the company logo right above her.

I have now been hired on as a permanent employee for over a year now, and the number of sightings has only gone up.

My questions are along the lines of:

Was I only made to change my hair because at the time I was a new temp employee, thus more expendable? How do I go about finding out if changing my hair is a possibility for me(without repercussion)? How is it alright for certain people, but not alright for others, assuming that all involved in this question are non-client-facing individuals.

As a point of reference, I am no longer intending on Blue hair, but instead a 'technically natural' color, in white.

  • 6
    So when you are asked to change your hair color you were working for the temp company? And asked by someone in the temp company? And now you work direct? If so then there may be a different set of rules in play now. – Peter M Oct 16 '17 at 14:34
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    Please edit your question and describe exactly the by who – Jan Doggen Oct 16 '17 at 14:44
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    What does the handbook say? Have you asked your manager about the possiblity of you changing your hair color? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 16 '17 at 15:23
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    @JoeStrazzere You are correct, but I think the question is complicated by the fact that the rule appears to not be enforced universally at the company, as there are other coworkers with blue hair. – David K Oct 16 '17 at 18:23
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    @BruceWayne And importantly, choice of hair color is not a protected class. – corsiKa Oct 17 '17 at 17:03
109

How should I ask if changing my hair color is acceptable?

I would review your employee handbook first, and if there isn't anything that addresses the topic, then I would definitely run it by your manager.

If your position is not customer facing, then I don't see the issue at all with your choice in hair color. If you do have a customer facing position, then most likely there is a section in the employee handbook that addresses employee appearance.

Bottom line, if you're not certain, ask your manager. I would not recommend that you involve HR in this. I don't think you want the HR spot light on you for something so trivial as hair color.

  • 1
    My guess is that the manager will say it is fine and that the original order to change did not come from the company itself, but was an overreaction by the temp company to a comment made by someone at the company. – Kevin Oct 16 '17 at 19:49
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    @Kevin I wouldn't be so hasty in offering that advice. I've seen management go nuts over hair color, piercings, tattoos and other body modification. – Retired Codger Oct 16 '17 at 20:15
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    I didn't advise some random person to just change their hair color with no information about the company. I didn't advise them to change their hair color at all, actually. I simply said that based on her experience with the company, I would guess that when she asks her manager before doing it she will find that it is fine – Kevin Oct 16 '17 at 21:02
15

Ask HR.

They're going to be the point of contact with regards to dress code. So, you could bring up the fact that other people have the same or more lurid coloured hair.

The answer might depend on whether you're customer facing or not.

But go with HR's advice here. And your co-workers of course....

  • 36
    Somehow I have a feeling that contradictory HR practices are not a problem for HR. – Peter M Oct 16 '17 at 14:51
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    @PeterM: Depends on whether you got permission in writing. The litigation of a termination over something that you were explicitly and provably allowed to do could become nasty enough for legal to recommend to HR to drop it. – David Foerster Oct 16 '17 at 18:52
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    One possible reaction to "other people have more lurid colored hair" is for the company to amend the dress code to prohibit "odd" hair colors. One should be not be surprised if that happens. – Wayne Conrad Oct 16 '17 at 21:37
  • This is the best answer. – Tony Ennis Oct 16 '17 at 23:23
9

Just do it.

In most ways I think the answer "Mister Sort of Positive" is the way to go except for asking your manager.

Look in the employee handbooks. And if there's nothing in there about hair color then just go for it.

The reason why I say this is that it's often better to ask for forgiveness then permission.

What if you don't like the answer you get? What if the answer is: "Well, officially you can have all the colors you want, but personally I dislike it."

At the point you have officially gotten permission to do it from you manager but also know you annoy him/her when you do.

Whereas if you would have just done it you could have claimed ignorance about your managers preference.

  • 6
    This is a terrible idea; the OP could be fired on the spot if this isn't actually allowed. – Andy Oct 17 '17 at 12:40
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    Upvoted because, with some common sense, this attitude has opened a lot of opportunities for me. Yes, handbook / HR / manager will give a reference, but, c'mon man, it's a hairstyle, if it was absolutely not allowed, you'd get notified to change it and worst case you'll just lose your money – LocustHorde Oct 17 '17 at 12:43
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    You assume there is an employee handbook. You also assume managers have no discretion in things like this. And you assume some companies don't take dress code seriously. As a general answer, this should be rewritten at least, because checking the handbook is easily lost in the go for it the entire rest of the answer advocates. – Andy Oct 17 '17 at 13:11
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    Truly pythonic answer. This attitude is just write in such a situation. If she is not customer-facing, I find it somewhat ludicrous to first ask the manager/superior for permission. Premature submission is the root of all evil. – NoBackingDown Oct 17 '17 at 14:22
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    The original poster clearly states they were told to “…within the first week was told to dye it back to a normal color or I would be fired.” So when you state, “The reason why I say this is that it's often better to ask for forgiveness then permission.” it really ignores the fact this issue was broached before and just “YOLO”-ing it might get them reprimanded or fired. – JakeGould Oct 17 '17 at 16:41
-1

In my workplace (retail) we always ask Human Resources questions we have on the dress code, and if they don't know the answer they will ask their manager (thats their job, and they will be your backup in case there's repercussions) our immediate manager usually does not keep up on all the rules of the company.

If your HR dept. says it's ok, you should let your immediate manager know that you already spoke with HR and ask him/her what their thoughts are. Not everybody follows the rules of a company but that doesn't mean you should too.

At my company we are not supposed to wear leggings, ripped jeans or sandals on the floor, but many people still do and say they don't care what the rules are - but come review time they will! Good luck.

protected by David K Oct 17 '17 at 15:09

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