The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that a male employee who was required to cut his shoulder-length hair was not discriminated against on the grounds of his sex.
Mr Dansie commenced training as a police constable. Prior to that training, at an assessment visit, he enquired as to whether his hair length would be acceptable. This was confirmed. However, when Mr Dansie reported for training he was told to cut his hair and was threatened with disciplinary action if he failed to comply.
Mr Dansie brought Employment Tribunal proceedings claiming that he had been unlawfully discriminated against on grounds of his sex, that he had been less favourably treated and suffered detriment contrary to the Sex Discrimination Act. In short, he argued that a woman with the same length hair would not have been required to cut it. The Employment Tribunal found against Mr Dansie and he appealed.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed Mr Dansie’s appeal holding that the Employment Tribunal was entitled to conclude that a female comparator who failed to comply with another aspect of the gender neutral policy would have been treated in the same way. Consequently, the policy was equally balanced between the sexes.
This case follows the principle laid down in previous case law that a difference in treatment between the sexes on one particular aspect of a dress code is not necessarily more favourable treatment of a member of sex compared with the other. A dress code must be considered as a whole and a code that applies a conventional standard of appearance is not in itself discriminatory. What is key is whether the overall dress code is equally balanced between the sexes.
The case can be accessed here.