Gone are the days when your employer could establish a strict dress code and implement it with threats of demotion or firing if you did not adhere to it.
The Houston Chronicle reports that while no law prohibits your employer from having a dress code, it must, nevertheless, have a valid business reason for it. In addition, the dress code must adhere to the anti-discriminatory rules and regulations promulgated by such federal agencies as the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Discrimination red flags
Unfortunately, a discriminatory dress code can take many forms. Some red flags indicating that your employer’s dress code is discriminatory include the following:
- It does not exist in written form.
- It does not apply equally to all employees.
- Your employer does not enforce it evenly throughout the organization.
- It makes no exceptions or accommodations for people in a protected category, such as race, color, ethnicity, gender or disability.
Your employer has the right to require you to wear a uniform while performing your job duties. If it does so, however, California law requires it to pay for the uniform. This law likewise applies to retailers who require you to wear only their own merchandise.
Hair and jewelry
If your job requires you to work around food, your employer’s dress code can legitimately require you to forego jewelry or hairstyles that could easily come into contact with the food or its ingredients. The same applies if your job requires you to work around dangerous tools, machinery or equipment.
Although tattoos in the workplace are now common, your employer’s dress code can legitimately require you to wear clothing, such as full-length pants and sleeves, that hides any tattoos that others may find offensive.