Oklahoma Christian University once banned beards, according to the 1968 and 1972 student handbooks, spokesman Wes McKinzie said. The exception was the month the college held its Western Day beard contest, he said.
Prickly legal matters
There are legal reasons that require employers to allow workers to wear facial hair, said Elaine Turner, an attorney with Hall Estill law firm in Oklahoma City.
“If the facial hair is required by a sincerely held religious belief, an employer is required under the law to allow the beard unless allowing the beard would impose an undue hardship on the employer, such as workplace safety,” Turner said. “Under the right set of circumstances, an accommodation may also have to be made by an employer to men who cannot shave due to medical reasons.”
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, up to 60 percent of black males and other ethnic groups with naturally curly hair get painful, itchy, inflammatory “razor bumps” from shaving. The condition results when shaved hairs curl back into the skin and become ingrown.
To promote its November men's health and wellness initiative, Integris Health loosens its facial hair policy during that month, sponsoring a mustache-growing contest among the Oklahoma City Barons team members, as well as an employee contest for a grill and other prizes.
“It's a humorous approach to get guys interested in their health,” said Steve Perry, systems administrative director for community and employee wellness.
For the internal contest, Integris employees voted on the co-worker with the best mustache, after photos were posted of the contestants' respective before and after faces.
2013 Champion Glenn Young, a lead maintenance technician at Southwest Medical Center, said he entered on a dare from three of his staff who also competed.
“It was a fun month going to church and stores; everyone would look at you funny,” he said. “But ... it was worth it.”