The policy change comes amid a growing national movement to ban racial discrimination based on people’s natural hairstyle.
UPS will allow workers to have facial hair and natural Black hairstyles like Afros and braids as it becomes the latest company to shed policies widely criticized as discriminatory amid nationwide demands for racial justice. “These changes reflect our values and desire to have all UPS employees feel comfortable, genuine, and authentic while providing service to our customers and interacting with the general public,” the company said in a statement.
In 2018, UPS agreed to pay $4.9 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which said the company had failed to hire or promote Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians, and others whose religious practices conflicted with its appearance policy. The commission said the company had for years segregated workers who wore beards or long hair in accordance with their religious beliefs into nonsupervisory, back-of-the-facility positions without customer contact.
The company’s new policy clarifies that beards and mustaches “are definitely acceptable as long as they are worn in a businesslike manner and don’t create a safety concern,” according to UPS documents reviewed by The Journal. The new rules took effect immediately. The policy also permits natural hairstyles “such as Afros, braids, curls, coils, locs, twists and knots,” according to The Journal. And it eliminates guidelines specific to men and women. “No matter how you identify — dress appropriately for your workday,” the policy states.