We build interstates. We always have a need for good hard working laborers. Yesterday the hall sent us four workers. The first one to walk in was a Rastafarian sporting a wrist full of colorful hemp bracelets and dread locks hanging long down his back (btw – an odd look with a construction hat). The other three were bald. I told him, “You want to work? Tie up the dreads, and take off the bracelets. We don’t want those locks getting caught in one of our conveyors. Could realllly slow down the job… You know what I mean?” He didn’t like my conditions and went home. Today I received a complaint from the hall… something about his religious freedom. He has to follow our rules…right?
-Not Living On Island Time
Dear Island Time,
Don’t worry. About a thing. Make reasonable rules specifically tailored for safety. Apply the rules uniformly. Make sure that you apply the “long hair” and “bracelet” rules evenly to all regardless of their religion (the bald guys should be ok).
Island Time, every year there are roughly 150,000 injuries from U.S. construction site accidents and more than 1,000 deaths. Construction is the most dangerous workplace. The last thing you want to do is make it easier for accidents to happen by not having the proper dress and hair restrictions.
The hall was right – you can’t discriminate based on religion. Keeping the Rasta alive is a little more important.
John Swansinger is the author and founder of YouDig?, is a partner in Buckingham, Doolittle & Burrough, LLC‘s real estate and construction practice group and is the Cleveland Office Partner in Charge. He works with contractors, developers and construction owners on construction law issues including construction contracts, commercial agreements, construction litigation, subcontractor issues, insurance liability, breach of contract and more. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216.615.7356.
YouDig is an online resource that connects the construction community with vital issues affecting the industry and is a component of the business law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC that is specifically geared toward construction.