Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Friday, September 9, 2005

Dog bites man

MSNBC's "Peculiar Postings", one of those websites that carries silly news stories with headlines such as "Bald German loses fight for toupee funding" or "Housewife burns down home trying to destroy spiders", recently carried an item poking fun at Nanjing for banning bald taxi drivers. According to the story, filed by Reuters, "In a bid to spruce up the city’s image, authorities in China's Nanjing are banning taxi drivers who are bald, wear their hair too long, have mustaches or wear too much makeup."

I found the original story in the Jinling [Nanjing] Evening News (金陵晚报) and discovered that it wasn't quite so silly as originally reported: it says that taxi drivers may not shave their heads bald, but does not prohibit the naturally bald from driving (仪容仪表整洁,男司机不蓄长发、怪发、不理光头、不留小胡子,女司机不浓妆艳抹,穿着得体大方). But more fundamentally, are these regulations really silly enough to rate an appearance in "Peculiar Postings"? I did a little more research and discovered that my intuition was correct: not only may private taxi companies in the United States impose dress codes of this nature on their employees (see, e.g., City Cab Co. of Orlando, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 628 F.2d 261 (D.C.Cir.1980)), but local governments, at least to some degree, may do so as well (La Grande v. B & L Services, Inc., 432 So.2d 1364, 1367 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1983)). So let's give Nanjing a break.

Incidentally, for a comparison of Beijing and Shanghai cab drivers, see the following:

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