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Sala IV ruling: Employers can ban ‘extravagant’ hair dyes

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4 February 2023 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA (La Nacion) A woman filed an appeal with Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court or Sala IV as it is commonly known, alleging a violation of her rights because the Labor Code prohibits hair dyes with “extravagant colors”, such as fiery red, fuchsia, purple, green, silver, blue, fantasy colors or color combinations.

Image for illustrative pursoses. From thecoolist.com

In the opinion of the woman, who works at the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) trauma hospital, this norm limits her right of expression, since it ensures that the dye does not affect her performance at work in any way. In addition, she indicated in her appeal that she could face disciplinary and administrative processes in case of not complying with the said directive.

In a ruling, the Magistrates considered that dress codes do not limit any fundamental right of people as long as they are not discriminatory or irrational. In addition, they indicated that the employee has not faced any disciplinary procedure for the possible breach of this rule.

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“In the case under study, there is no evidence that the protected person has been penalized or is subject to disciplinary proceedings by virtue of the directive issued by the appealed authority on the institutional dress code.

“Thus, the Sala considers that the issuance of the dress code guideline in itself does not constitute a sanction imposed to the detriment of the protected person nor does it violate their fundamental rights of freedom of expression,” says part of the resolution.

Magistrate Paul Rueda noted that the state insurer, the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) has an important role in the field of commercial insurance, so it is plausible that the company take measures in relation to the presentation of its workers, since this definitely affects its commercial image.

Likewise, Rueda stated that the norms on the hair color of the workers of the INS respect the criteria of reasonableness and, therefore, argued that the norm does not violate other constitutional rights, such as equality or the free development of the personality.

“The fact that a company, whether public or private, considers that certain shades of hair of its employees are inappropriate because they are extravagant for its commercial image, although it certainly limits the free development of the personality of the affected subject, no less true is that in my opinion, such a restriction does not reach such a degree of intensity, as to sustain a violation of the essential content of said right,” said Rueda.

The magistrate did not find a violation of the “necessity element” either, since a wide margin of selection of dyes with less flashy tones is reserved for the person, in accordance with an appreciation of the current cultural moment of Costa Rican society.

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From the La Nacion article “Patronos pueden prohibir tintes de cabello ‘extravagantes’, sentencia Sala IV”. Read the original here.

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