Branding or discrimination? Employee quits after WestJet asks her to change hair
Published Tuesday, October 28, 2014 9:57AM EDT
The case of a Calgary woman who quit her WestJet job after the company asked her to change her hairstyle is renewing a debate on workplace dress code policies.
Janet Moore decided to leave WestJet after she was forced to choose between her hair and the job she loves. The 64-year-old sports a short, spiky hairdo that's dyed in shades of blonde and brown.
Moore said she was surprised when the company asked her to change her hairstyle, as she has always worn her hair that way.
"I was shocked, at first I thought it was a joke," she told CTV Calgary. "I had the same hairstyle when I was interviewed, offered the job, and trained."
She acknowledges that the company didn't fire her; it even offered to work with her to find a new style. But she felt offended and decided to quit.
WestJet spokesperson Robert Palmer said he couldn't comment on the specific case, but said the company has always had a dress and appearance code.
The company's staff manual calls for employees to have natural looking nails, free of colourful polish, as well as natural looking hair colour.
Palmer said the company is going to be updating its uniforms in the New Year, and will be pushing again for adherence to its dress and appearance policies.
"We're using the opportunity, I think, with the refresh of our uniforms coming in the New Year to get back to the dress and decorum standards that we've had in place for some time," he said.
WestJet is not the only company that's making news for its dress code policies.
Last month, Wal-Mart announced a new dress code for its employees, requiring them to wear khakis and collared-shirts under the company's ubiquitous blue vests. Wal-Mart employees have to pay for the new uniforms themselves.
And earlier in October, Starbucks changed its tattoo policy so that employees who serve customers can now show off their tattoos everywhere except for on their face or throat.
Calgary-based image consultant Ania Basak said companies increasingly have to find the right balance between maintaining its brand image and allowing employees to express themselves.
"Each company has its own rules, and we as people who work in that company should respect that and follow that. However, we also have our own personality and our way of expressing ourselves," she said.