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Office bans

Wacky workplace rules: No beards. No gossip. No deodorant! Add to ...

Don't badmouth your co-worker behind her back - especially if your boss is Ray Dalio.

The president of New York-based Bridgewater Associates, one of the world's largest hedge funds, has created a stir over his ban on office gossip, since The Wall Street Journal published his profile last month.

Mr. Dalio's controversial "Principle No. 11" reportedly states, "Never say anything about a person you wouldn't say to him directly. If you do, you are a slimy weasel."

An employee can be fired upon violating this rule three times, WSJ reported - an edict that critics have dismissed as tyrannical and unrealistic. (For his part, Mr. Dalio told the newspaper: "Most people actually love this rule.")

But if you think getting the boot for gossiping sounds extreme, what about banning facial hair, microwave popcorn or - heaven forbid - wearing deodorant? Plenty of employers have implemented, or at least considered, other wacky workplace bans.

Earlier this year, the Japanese city of Isesaki ordered its male staff to maintain a clean shave, lest their facial hair offend the public. According to Kyoto News, the municipality is not the only Japanese employer to ban beards. Seven-Eleven Japan Co., the Yomiuri Giants baseball club, and Oriental Land Co., which operates Tokyo's Disney resort, also demand their workers have hair-free faces.

Also tackling employees' grooming habits, the city of Detroit famously banned its workers from wearing perfumes, scented deodorants and other fragrances this year, after a U.S. District Court sided with an employee's claim to the right to a scent-free workplace.

But while some scents might be deemed offensive, the smell of a burning midday snack can actually hinder productivity, the city of Seattle discovered.

In 2007, Seattle threatened to ban microwave popcorn in its municipal offices, after singed popcorn forced the city hall's 300 staff members to clear the building eight times in three years, The Seattle Times reports. Each building evacuation cost at least half an hour of work time.

An outright ban never actually materialized, but a memo was circulated to advise employees to read and follow instructions on the package.

"Stay by the microwave and listen to the pop, to know when to stop," the memo read.

Where workers draw the line on employers' rules, however, is when the latter take away their beer or try to enforce sensible footwear.

This spring, hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers at Carlsberg's Copenhagen brewery walked off the job to protest a ban on drinking beer outside lunch hours, Reuters reports. Their walkout was prompted by company officials' decision to put an end to the free flow of beer at their workplace, limiting its availability to the company canteen at lunch.

In Britain last year, even the slightest whiff of a ban on high heeled shoes created a flurry when trade unions passed a motion demanding that women have a right to wear comfortable shoes in the workplace. The unions' demand that high heels be swapped for comfortable shoes where heels were deemed a health risk was met with outcry from diehard stiletto-wearers.

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