This California mayor wants to forbid requiring neckties at work — because a study says they restrict blood flow to the brain

A mayor in Southern California wants to crack down on neckties. (Photo: Kridtanat Boonyasthian/EyeEm/Getty Images)

A California mayor wants to crack down on clothing — for health reasons.

The Los Angeles Times reports that R. Rex Parris, mayor of the Los Angeles suburb of Lancaster, is considering a city-wide policy that would put pressure on local employers to make neckties optional. Though Parris, a longtime litigator as well as a public official, has worn ties for decades, he has concerns that the accessory is a health risk.

It all stems from a blog post on the Big Think site that Parris recently read, which cited a new German study on how neckties affect blood flow to the brain. Researchers observed two groups of men — one wearing shirts open at the collar, the other with buttoned-up collars and tight neckties — and noted that the necktie-wearing group saw the amount of blood flowing to the brain drop by 7.5 percent. The study’s conclusion: “Wearing a necktie leads to a reduction in CBF (cerebral blood flow).”

That was jarring news to Parris, who has asked city officials to pursue a potential ban on mandatory ties in the workplace.

“I spend a lot of hours every week on an elliptical or a bike just to increase blood flow to my brain, and it turns out every morning when I put on a tie I’m diminishing it,” Parris said.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris has a new perspective on neckties. (Photo: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times)

Parris, who also expressed concerns that the reduced blood flow would have a negative impact on creativity and analytical thinking in a work capacity, brought up the issue during a city council meeting on July 10.

The mayor has asked both the city attorney and the local Criminal Justice Commission to see if such a ban, and fines for employers whose dress codes insist upon neckties, would be feasible.

It may be easier said than done. Though mandatory neckties have drawn complaints — including from a 2015 New York City Human Rights Commission — that they demand gender conformity, legal expert Michael Colantuono told the Times that efforts to regulate a private business’s dress code could stir up legal conflicts.

Parris remains undeterred.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate in America today to make anyone do something that is now known to be detrimental to your health, especially if it’s based on gender,” he said.

It’s not the first time the mayor has made national news. Last year the Republican expressed his desire to boost Lancaster’s LGBTQ and Asian populations, claiming that it would help crime rates go down.

“Good things happen when you’re able to increase your Asian population to a certain threshold: Crime rates go down, education levels go up,” Parris said in a controversial interview with Vice. “Interestingly, the same thing happens with the gays. That’s why I put the new performing arts center right downtown.”

In 2012, his efforts to reduce crime and soothe Lancaster residents included playing recordings of birds chirping on speakers along a local street.

Neckties have also gotten a bad rap in the past. A 2003 study suggested that wearing a tie too tightly could increase the risk of glaucoma, which can result in blindness.

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