I work in a 75+ person office which, as far as I can tell, is culturally diverse and accommodating. A couple weeks ago my colleagues and I went out for beers and got in a discussion about the portrayal of hyper-masculinity in North America, in particular how "manly" beards are. Some of our Asian colleagues who speak English as a second language took offense to the stereotype and exclaimed they couldn't grow beards at all. We expressed that we do not take the stereotype seriously, and after insisting they drop the topic several times, we finally moved on.
Fast forward to this Monday: it seems at least one or more individuals has taken offense at this definition of "manliness", and a junior HR manager has decreed that all people sporting facial hair for non-religious reasons must now shave it. One individual joked "what next, no pocket knives unless it's a kirpan"? So then the junior HR manager also ordered that nobody may carry a pocket knife, even a multitool like a leatherman, unless it's for religious reasons.
I do not agree with this at all and do not want to shave my facial hair. Our senior HR manager returns in 2 more weeks from Hawaii, but in the meantime, we have to deal with the junior HR manager. Anyone who doesn't have a religious exemption has to shave, and now we can't even carry some tools in the office. I am trying to avoid hiring a lawyer to deal with this, since I don't think it will end well for me. There seems to be an air of racial hypersensitivity in my industry, so I think I would be branded a racist and made a pariah if I were to get legally involved in fighting this.
What can I do to fight this rule I don't agree with? Is there anything I can do to delay obeying this new "rule" until our senior HR manager returns?
Update - Friday, Nov. 6, 2015
Me and a bunch of the CAD/PCB team decided to cause some hassle, noting that we were having massive delays with prototyping due to having to walk to the wire station every 5 minutes and use tiny pliers to cut off strands of wire, pop components out of reels, etc. Our senior foreman asked what this non-sense/prank was about, and we explained the e-mail to him. He called the senior HR manager, and he in turn, fired the junior HR manager, and sent her packing. The e-mail was addressed by our senior HR manager, and he noted that the e-mail was a draft policy that was not approved. Damage control, is my guess. It's Friday, and I get to keep my beard and leatherman.