London hotel’s staff grooming demands could breach discrimination laws

News Article

Staff grooming standards, which have allegedly been put in place by the world renowned Dorchester Hotel, are being questioned, after employees pointed out that the rules do not apply to male and female staff members equally.

According to media reports, the leaked list of rules were emailed to staff by their line managers following a complaint about general hygiene.

The leaked document stated that women should not attend work with oily skin, bad breath or garish makeup. The grooming list also suggested that they should shave their legs, ensure their fingernails were manicured and avoid body odour.

Now, the five-star London hotel is bracing itself for possible legal action after a number of female employees took exception to the rules.

An anonymous employee told the Daily Mail: “It’s disgusting. This list is like something out of the dark ages and downright offensive. It’s not as though you choose to have oily skin, and a lot of women, especially teenagers, cannot help it – no facial wash or moisturiser in the world can control that.

“The women are all pretty livid but worry that if they complain – or rebel and turn up to work with chipped, dirty nails and hairy legs, for example – they’ll be sacked on the spot.”

The Dorchester has issued a statement, claiming that the rules were not emailed to all staff, but admitted that they were provided to job applicants.

The hotel’s general manager, Roland Fasel, said: “The Dorchester has a proud community of employees who uphold world-leading hospitality standards, including grooming, in line with many other brands. “All new applicants, both men and women, are sent a copy of our grooming standards in advance of interview.”

Lara Murray, an employment law expert with Palmers said: “Employers are entitled to have both dress and grooming codes in place but these must not unfairly discriminate against a worker on the grounds of age, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.

“If certain grooming rules only target female employees, as has been suggested, this may be discriminatory pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

“Moreover, the issue of hair removal may offend and contravene the religious or spiritual beliefs of some women, or could discriminate against others who, because of gender reassignment, suffer from excess body hair, which may also be a breach of the Equality Act.

“If it can be proved that an employer has either fired an employee or failed to hire them as a result of discrimination under the Equality Act, there are certainly grounds for legal action.

“As an employer, it is sensible to review both your existing employee rules and guidelines for new applicants to ensure that you are not placing your business at risk of being sued.”

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