Asiana Air Sues to Keep Facial Hair Policy that Applies Only To Koreans

South Korea’s Asiana Airlines is pretty serious about employees not sporting facial hair on the job. Yonhap reports today say the company has filed suit against the Korean National Labor Relations Commission in a fight to keep the policy in place.

Fair enough, the New York Yankees have had a no facial hair policy for decades as part of their brand image strategy. And while we can debate whether that’s fair or not, the core controversy surrounding the the Asiana policy is that it applies only to Korean employees.

According to company regulations, male workers at Asiana are forbidden from having facial hair–unless they are foreign born.


Last year, a Korean-born pilot took a stance against the regulation and came to work unshaven. His resistance escalated to the point that he refused the direct order of a company executive to shave.

The pilot was subsequently suspended 29 days for not lathering up.

He later took his case to the Korean National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and last month they ordered Asiana to compensate the pilot for the hours lost.

South Korea’s 2nd largest carrier is now fighting back; not only against the ruling, but the no facial hair policy as well, which it feels is within its rights to implement.


Asiana Files Suit to Have Ruling Lifted

According to the Yonhap report, the company has filed a lawsuit with the Seoul Administrative Court calling on the NLRC to revoke its ruling that called for the airline to pay 3.2 million won ($2,765) in compensation to the suspended pilot.

Yonhap also reported that Asiana has no qualms with the nature of the no facial hair policy. The report quotes them as saying that “the nation’s human rights watchdog earlier determined there was nothing wrong with the company’s move and dress code.”

It was, however, just two years ago that Asiana finally surrendered its long-standing “no pants” policy for female flight attendants following a hard fought battle with the country’s National Human Rights Commission over what was then called a discriminatory dress code.

Where it stands and where it will go is up for speculation. Prevailing winds suggest that the airline might likely be fighting another losing labor battle.

Regardless of your feelings on this issue and whether private enterprise has the right to set standards for appearance, it is interesting to note that nearly all of Korea’s most cherished historical heroes wore beards.

They would have never been able to work for Asiana. Or play for the Yankees.




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