Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dress Code Policy Workplace

Dress Code Policies in the Workplace

Dress Codes

First and foremost, there are absolutely no federal dress code requirements. It is completely up to the employer to decide how the employees should dress, as long as the policies are not discriminatory. Dress code policies are not allowed to discriminate against any employee's race, gender, religion, disability, or any other federally protected status. Having said this, it is a good idea to avoid rigid and highly restrictive rules to avoid resentment, negativity, or potential law suits.

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Dress Code Policies Concerning:

Gender: Policies do not have to be the same for both genders, as long as the standards for each gender are reasonable for the business environment. Best practice is to avoid dress requirements that differentiate by gender. For example, instead of implementing a policy requiring skirts for women or neckties for men, simply require "professional business attire".

Religion: When a dress code requirement conflicts with an employee's religious beliefs, the employer must carefully examine the situation and accommodate the employee's religious belief unless the accommodation is an undue hardship for the employer. An employer is not legally required to grant an employee's preferred accommodation, but merely a reasonable one. Best practice is to base dress codes on objective criteria such as workplace safety and professional image and to be prepared to make reasonable accommodations for employees with dress and grooming related requirements that do not adhere to the dress code, but do not present health or safety concerns.

Race: If a dress code policy has an unequal impact of a particular race as opposed to another, this would be a form of racial discrimination. Dress and grooming requirements may run afoul of federal civil rights if they adversely impact a protected class of employees. Best practice is to avoid specific dress and grooming practices and to allow alternatives to policies.

Tattoos and Body Piercings: With regard to body art, an employer can impose different standards for different classes of employees, but not for different genders. For example, an employer can ban visible tattoos and piercings for employees who meet face-to-face with customers, as long as the employer applies the dress code equally to all employees in that class, absent religious accommodations. But an employer cannot prohibit visible tattoos on women, while allowing men to show off their body art or allow women to sport body piercings, while precluding men from doing the same. Best practice is to be reasonable, but understand what qualifies as offensive body art. If there is any doubt, switch that employee to a position where there is no face to face contact with clients, or ask for them to have it removed/covered while in the workplace.

Effective Practice

In short, an employer has a legitimate business interest in presenting a workforce that is "reasonably professional in appearance" and whose workplace is "safe." Therefore, an employer can implement grooming and dress policies to protect those interests. We suggest basing dress codes on objective criteria such as workplace safety and professional image, and to include a statement in the personnel handbook reaffirming that the nonprofit will make every effort to accommodate employees' religious beliefs.

-Kimberly A. Gilmour- Article Source:

Thank you for reading.

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