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How to set up dress codes to limit disputes

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Employment Law |

Employers and employees will sometimes get into disputes over dress codes. As an employer, you may be interested in instituting a dress code just to make your business look more professional or to fit with the atmosphere and aesthetic that you’re trying to create. But employees may not feel happy about being told what they have to wear or how they have to dress.

In some cases, dress codes can lead to discrimination disputes. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t use them. You simply need to know how employers are obligated to set up a dress code so that it can be utilized effectively.

Affecting everyone equally

The most important thing to remember is that the dress code needs to be relatively the same for everyone so that it has an impact on every group equally. If it does not, then a group that is being unfairly targeted could make allegations of discrimination.

An example of this is if you have a dress code that was established for only one gender. Perhaps female employees are told that they have to wear a uniform, while male employees are allowed to wear anything they choose.

Another example could be if the dress code applies to everyone, technically, but actually impacts different groups in different ways. Say that employees who follow a certain religion have specific items of clothing that they wear to adhere to that religion. You could make a dress code policy saying that no one is allowed to wear these items. It technically does apply to everyone, but it could still be discriminatory because it clearly targets the more religious employees.

Resolving disputes

As long as you avoid these types of issues, your dress code should be fine. But if you still do find yourself in a legal dispute, be sure you know what steps to take.