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Employment Classification and Discrimination

Introduction

The case represents a good example of complex relationships among employers and employees. It also helps understand the distinction between employee and independent contractor, as well as shed light upon certain ethical issues. In this report, it will be argued that Janice from the case needs to be qualified as an employee, Dream Massage violates employment and discrimination laws. In addition, ethical concerns behind rigid dress-code will also be discussed.

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Employee vs. Independent Contractor

According to the International Revenue Service (2018), one can and should distinguish an employees from an independent contractor by measuring their relationships with an employer in six major fields. The first field is the degree of integration of services provided by a person. If the services can be considered as an integral part of a business, the employee-employer relationships should be assumed. In this case, Dream Massage plans a schedule for Janice, buys necessary equipment and tries to fit her appearance into a company’s policy. It is evident that if Janice violates her duties, a significant part of the company’s daily operations will be jeopardized. Therefore, in this field, Janice is close to being called an “employee.” Secondly, length and regularity of relationships can also suggest that they are of an employer-employee type. Since Janice has a schedule created by the company, the relationships between her and a firm can be regarded as more or less stable or permanent. Thirdly, the absence of investment in equipment also classifies Janice as an employee.

The degree of control is another indicator that the International Revenue Service (2018) uses to distinguish independent contractors from employees. Since the company controls Janice’s schedule and dress code, she falls into the category of employee. Financial risks and initiative that help distinguish between the categories of workers also indicate that Janice is an employee. She does not buy her own supplies, does not pick clients, and cannot wear certain elements of clothing. Therefore, cumulatively, Janice should rather be considered an employee with corresponding obligations and rights.

Violation of Employment Discrimination Laws

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (n.d.), the prohibition of religious garb is the violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The prohibition of clothing items can be regarded as discrimination based on religion and considered a violation. U.S. Employees are required by this law to make exceptions to their usual rules regarding dress code for people, whose religion obligates them to wear certain clothing or style items. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (n.d.) provides a case similar to the one in question where a manager wearing hijab was demoted due to his alleged sympathy to terrorists. The termination of employment on the basis of refusing to remove hijab will also be considered a violation of Title VII. Technically, Dream Massage violates Title VII yet, if no punitive action is noted if Janice refuses to remove hijab, then no violation can be observed. If Janice, upon facing the request, removes it willingly, then it could not be considered a breach of the law since the action was performed consensually. However, she could file a complaint, as the request itself is a violation of her religious freedoms.

Ethical Considerations Associated with Rigid Dress Policy

On the one hand, each company is allowed to establish a dress code for its employees if it does not violate their sense of dignity. Each employee has a right to refuse to work for a company whose dress code does not comply with his or her personal or religious preferences. It is, however, a separate matter when the dress code is applied to employees who previously worked without it. According to The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (2014), the dress code should be justified by safety or business reasons. For instance, kitchen staff should wear garments that protect the food from accidental hair falling into it. In this case, a prohibition of Jewish hat, kippah that obviously cannot provide the same amount of hygiene protection is reasonable. Such cases transcend ethics and fall into the category of safety requirements.

Equal Employment Opportunity Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act guarantee employees the freedom of demonstrating their religious affiliation (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, n.d.). Any prohibitions in that area, except for cases connected with safety, can be prosecuted as violations of these laws. It is also unethical to ban wearing hijabs, kippahs, and other religious garbs because it affects the feelings of the people who wear them. Such prohibitions may hurt their personal and religious feelings, which fuels religious tensions in the company and in the country.

Conclusion

All things considered, Janice should be considered an employee rather than an independent contractor. The company has a lot of control mechanisms over her. Their relationships are lengthy and regular. Dream Massage relieves Janice of financial risks and decision-making and buys supplies for her job. Dream Massage Company violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by prohibiting Janice to wear hijab without producing adequate reasons for doing so. Ethical considerations of such actions involve fuelling anti-Islamic tensions and clashes between different religions within a company and in the country as well. The topic of religious garb is rather sensitive, and caution is advised in handling such issues.

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References

International Revenue Service. (2018). Financial control. Web.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. (2014). Dress code and appearance in the workplace. Web.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (n.d.). Religious garb and grooming in the workplace: Rights and responsibilities. Web.

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