When shortstop Jose Reyes signed his $106 million contract with the Miami Marlins he was sure his new bosses were in love with everything about him, and he was right, almost. The Marlins are definitely in love with their new player and with Reyes on their side they are ready to get on the road to a World Series championship. The one thing they aren’t in love with though, Reyes’ shoulder length dreadlocks.

The sunshine state based team has a policy forbidding shoulder length hair on players. In order to play, Reyes will have to follow in the footsteps of his teammate Hanley Ramirez and make a date with his barber to cut off his locks. According to team president David Samson:

“The answer is, there’ll be team rules,” Samson said. “Everyone follows the team rules, whatever they are.”

While no one would dispute that one has to follow the rules of an organization when they agree to work there, is it fair for employers to dictate the hairstyles of their employees? Reyes’ ability to perform on the field doesn’t lie within his hair, with or without it he is an exceptional player which is why they chose him. So why does his hairstyle of choice matter? It’s not like his hair will affect his performance and cost the team millions of dollars, and tucked neatly under a helmet it will hardly be a distraction or safety hazard, so what’s the big deal? Of course it can also be argued that if the hair is not that big of a deal, what’s the issue with cutting it, especially if not doing so could cost you your job. In my opinion, the issue isn’t so much the hair as it is the stripping away of one’s individuality and in turn creating an organizational culture devoid of diversity and true team work. Having everyone look and act the same is not what creates a team environment, bringing people of various backgrounds together and showing them how to work together as one despite their differences is how team work is created, and how you wear your hair should have no affect on that.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to work for any organization that saw a minor display of my individuality as an issue that needed to be fixed, but for $106 million I’m sure Reyes ran to the nearest barber, and many people would probably do the same. As important as fitting in with a company’s culture is, I don’t think that you should have to give up a piece of your individuality to do it, especially when the piece you’re expected to give up has nothing to do with your commitment to the organization or your career.
Would you cut your hair for a job? Do you think policies restricting hairstyles are fair?

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