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Work Place

No CPR, and Six Other Terrible Workplace Policies

Some office regulations make sense; others don't.

Photograph by Holly Harris/Getty Images

Some office regulations make sense; others don't.

After days of receiving public outcry and ridicule for its company policy that prevented a nurse from giving CPR to an 87-year-old resident who later died, Bakersfield (Calif.) senior living community Glenwood Gardens (BKD) released a statement today to clarify its position: It “is an independent living facility, which by law is not licensed to provide medical care to any of its residents.”

That makes sense when it comes to dispensing narcotics or, say, setting a broken bone. Performing CPR on a person who can’t breathe, on the other hand, might qualify for an exception.

That’s for Glenwood Gardens and its critics to sort out. Fortunately, the most ridiculous standard operating procedures usually don’t kill anyone. Here are six (probably) well-intentioned workplace policies gone awry:

Unemployed need not apply. Some companies, as a common practice, hire only applicants who are currently working. That’s a problem for the country’s many long-term unemployed who, arguably, would really like a job. New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., have made it illegal to discriminate against the unemployed.

Don’t be a hero. A “no guns in the workplace” rule seems plenty reasonable, but if ever there were an exception, the following might qualify: In November, an AutoZone (AZO) worker in York County, Va., retrieved a gun from his truck to stop an armed robbery at the store and save his manager. He was later fired because bringing in the weapon violated the company’s gun policy. An AutoZone representative told local TV station WTKR it has a “zero-tolerance policy for employees having weapons inside the store.” (If the AutoZone hero had watched our video, he could have disarmed the robber with a homemade pencil shooter.)

Take off those pants. Female crew members of Asiana Airlines (020560:KS) are not allowed to wear trousers, which has drawn the ire of South Korea’s human-rights commission. Then again, the airline industry isn’t known for its lax dress code. There are plenty of strict uniform rules, including regulations on hair and makeup, how much jewelry and accessories can be worn, and even the type of luggage the crew is allowed to carry.

Shave that soul patch, hippie. Women aren’t the only ones who can’t dress how they want. Disneyland (DIS) just last year started allowing employees to grow a beard or a goatee shorter than a quarter of an inch, although soul patches are still not allowed. (No word on mutton chops.)

No working from home. Yahoo!’s (YHOO) recent decision to require employees to come into the office set off a debate about work-from-home policies—and drew a fair deal of criticism.

No food at your desk. Some call centers don’t allow workers to eat at their desks, saying it is impolite and unhygienic. It’s a contentious issue because “it cuts right to the heart of individual freedom,” according to, an online British trade publication.

Wong is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. Follow her on Twitter @venessawwong.

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