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Organisations often have rules regarding the appearance of their employees in the workplace. Employers should ensure that any proposed rules that allow or prohibit jewellery to be worn in the workplace do not amount to discrimination.

Rules about wearing jewellery could amount to discrimination if they impose different requirements for different groups of people, such as men and women.

Example: An employer dismissed a male shop assistant who wore an earring for refusing to remove the earring. The organisation’s dress policy allowed female employees to wear earrings and many female employees wore earrings to work without consequences. The employer’s actions could be sex discrimination.

It could also be discrimination if a rule about wearing jewellery appears to treat everyone the same but actually disadvantages some people because of a particular attribute protected by anti-discrimination laws. If the requirement is not reasonable in the circumstances, it could be discrimination.

Although it is not unlawful to discriminate on the basis of religion under federal laws, the Commission may investigate complaints of religious discrimination in employment and try to resolve these by conciliation.

Example: An employer prohibited staff from wearing any jewellery to work. This rule unfairly disadvantaged a Sikh employee whose religious beliefs required him to wear a ‘kara’ or metal bracelet.