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Can my employer tell me how to dress?

On Behalf of | Jul 21, 2019 | Employment Law - Employees

Dress and grooming codes are work are quite common. Some employers dictate that workers can’t dye their hair certain colors or must wear a specific uniform to retain employment. While in many cases these codes of conduct are legal, employers do walk a fine line. Some rules can be construed as discriminatory when certain factors are in place. Being able to understand what is and isn’t permissible is important for workers, as explained by

Many men wear beards these days, but this grooming choice is not always welcomed by employers. This is especially true in foodservice situations, where there may be concerns about sanitation. In this case, employers are allowed to ask employees to shave their beards, but only when other factors are not present. For example, people who wear beards for religious reasons have successfully challenged their employer’s regulations. The same can be said for people with medical issues that make shaving painful or difficult. 

For women, the subject of makeup and its appropriateness in the place of work is an ongoing issue. Some workplaces insist their employees wear makeup and this requirement is often considered to be legal. It’s OK for workplaces to have different dress codes for both genders, provided that one gender isn’t overly burdened by their particular dress code. While in the past lawsuits were brought against employers alleging that a makeup requirement is indeed sexist, it can be hard to show how exactly it burdens workers. 

Some workplaces even try to dictate how much an employee can weigh. While this seems highly problematic, there are some instances where weight limits are accepted, provided that both men and women are subject to similar rules and that these rules are disclosed upon hiring. Each case is different, however, so it’s important to speak with an attorney if you feel like your rights are being violated. All rules in a workplace must be created with a valid reason in mind and must apply to all workers equally. If not, the practice can be construed as discriminatory. 

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