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FedEx and Dreadlocks: Religious Freedom or Policy Violation?

Refer to attachment for the scenario.

1. Should Mr. Polk and others be allowed to violate a grooming policy on the basis of a religious proclamation on the sanctity of dreadlocks? Why or why not? If you answer "yes," is there any point where you would draw the line in terms of company policy regarding appearance and the religious implications of dress?

2. Does FedEx have a right to impose a reasonable grooming policy based on customer reactions to personal appearances?

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1. Mr. Polk and others should be allowed to violate a grooming policy on the basis of a religious proclamation on the sanctity of dreadlocks and still interact with customers. Mr. Polk grew his hair to "symbolize his new religious path" (Wilson, n.d). It would be a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the company to discriminate against an employee and not accommodate his religious beliefs. In an actual deadlock case involving FedEx, the New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer investigated the termination of several FedEx Express employees who wore their hair in dreadlocks as an expression of their religious beliefs. A settlement was reached between the company and the government in which FedEx decided to revise its' policies "to allow employees to request an exemption from the policy based on religious reasons"(HR.blr.com, 2006). In addition, the company agreed to make changes to its' personal grooming policy, educate managers about requests for religious accommodation, and keep the government involved about its' handling of requests for accommodation involving employees wearing dreadlocks. Furthermore, however, employees seeking to wear dreadlocks must "wear their locks tucked under uniform hats" (Newsweek, 2001). The wearing of ...

Solution Summary

This solution involves a scenario in which FedEx objected to an employee's dreadlocks. The solution discusses if the employee should be able to violate the company grooming policy on the basis of religion. It also discusses if FedEx has the right to impose a reasonable grooming policy based on customer reactions to personal appearance. APA references are included.

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