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Even-handed dress code was not discriminatory

Even-handed dress code was not discriminatory

In Dansie v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis the EAT held that a male cadet had not been discriminated again on grounds of his sex when he was told that, in accordance with a dress code which applied to both sexes, he could not work with his shoulder-length hair tied in a bun and must have it cut. A female comparator would have been treated in exactly the same way.

The Police Dress Code states: “Hair must be neat, not allowed to cover the ears and … worn above the collar. For safety reasons, ponytails are not permitted and long hair must be neatly and securely fastened up and worn relatively close to the head.” Before starting his training as a police officer, Mr Dansie asked whether his hair would meet dress-code requirements and was told that it would. He arrived for training with his shoulder length hair tied in a bun: he was told to have it cut, which he did to avoid disciplinary action. He claimed sex discrimination, arguing that a female in the same circumstances would not have been required to have her hair cut.

The EAT upheld the tribunal’s finding that Mr Dansie had not been discriminated against on the grounds of his sex. The guidelines issued to managers on the dress code applied equally to both men and women. The tribunal was fully entitled to conclude that a female comparator who failed to comply with a gender neutral dress/appearance code necessary for this disciplined service, particularly when on basic training, would have been treated in exactly the same way as Mr Dansie. 

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