# 2020-180 Harassment, Beard Policy

Beard Policy

Case summary

F&R Date: 2021-06-30

Seven months into a deployment, the grievor, along with several other Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, was ordered to shave after the Task Force (TF) Commander deemed his attempt to grow a beard to be unsuccessful. The grievor filed this grievance to challenge the CAF beard policy. He argued that the policy's failure to define an unsuccessful attempt to grow a beard results in decisions that are arbitrary and which discriminate on the prohibited grounds of race and genetic characteristics.

The TF Commander sustained that the grievor had been given ample time for his beard to improve, that the decision to order the grievor to shave was in accordance with the CAF beard policy and that the decision was neither arbitrary nor discriminatory. 

The Committee found that the decision to order the grievor to shave was a valid exercise of the discretion provided to the TF Commander under the CAF beard policy. The Committee acknowledged the troubling prospect that the CAF beard policy was discriminatory, but noted that the grievor had not provided any evidence for such a finding. The Committee concluded it could not say, based on the evidence in the record, that the CAF beard policy was discriminatory or otherwise unreasonable. The Committee recommended that the Final Authority (FA) not afford the grievor redress.

FA decision summary

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) disagreed both with the Committee's finding that the grievor had not been aggrieved by the decision to order him to shave his beard and with its recommendation not to afford redress. The CDS found that because the grievor's beard was policy compliant and the grievor had been able to grow a successful beard, the grievor had been aggrieved by the TF Commander's order to shave. The CDS determined that the grievor could grow a beard again, unless restricted by operational requirements.

Like the Committee, the CDS found the grievor had not provided evidence for his contention that the beard policy was discriminatory. The CDS directed the Chief of Military Personnel to ensure that the Director History and Heritage reviews the beard policy with a view to clearly defining the term ’unsuccessful’ attempts to grow beards.

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