Individual expression is an important part of how many people see themselves and how they present themselves to the world. Throughout Oregon, residents dress, style, and portray themselves with the diverse and unique qualities that they choose and prefer. When they are restricted in how they present themselves at work, they can feel belittled and discriminated against by their employers.
Just recently the shipping and delivery giant UPS changed its employee policy to allow workers to wear their hair in natural Black hairstyles. The change was a lift of a prior restriction that restricted employees’ choices of how to style and cut their hair. This post will explore this change and how it demonstrates the importance of employee rights at work.
Changing policies at UPS
Employees and union representatives for UPS workers presented their wishes to lift the hairstyle ban due to UPS’s prior restrictions on afros, locs, braids, and other natural Black hairstyles. The bar on these hairstyles specifically affected Black workers and their options for styling their hair as they wanted. UPS management eventually relented, placing on caveat on the lifted ban to ensure that workers remained business-like in their appearance and no safety issues arose from the rule change.
Valuing workers and their individualism
The change at UPS was long overdue and a small step toward improving a workplace culture that had in place specific and potentially discriminatory policies against specific racial groups. This story demonstrates the importance of workers speaking up and fighting for workplace changes that are both important to them and legally significant to protect equality and justice in American workplaces. When workers discover that the rules and restrictions that impact them at work disparately fall upon specific groups of individuals, they may have claims based on discrimination and employee rights to take on those problems and seek the changes they desire.