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Can dress codes be discriminatory?

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2019 | Firm News |

Many workplaces decide to implement a dress code. There is a certain way the business wants to present itself to the public, and the way employees dress helps in that mission. However, the state of California forbids any dress codes from being discriminatory against anyone on the basis of gender and gender identification.

In recent years, dress codes have come under fire for how they deal with transgender employees. California has outlawed any dress codes that would require an individual to dress in a manner that goes against his or her gender identification. There are other ways in which a dress code can end up on the wrong side of the law. Employees need to be aware of when a dress code goes too far.

A dress code cannot hold one group to a different standard than another

It is perfectly legal for companies to have dress codes. Some organizations want workers to dress in formally while others are okay with business casual. The problem comes when women have stricter codes than men or vice versa. For example, it would be illegal for a dress code to state, “Female employees cannot wear mini-skirts or tank tops to work.” This places an unfair restriction on women that it does not for men. In contrast, it would be appropriate for the dress code to state something like, “The workplace will not tolerate inappropriately revealing clothing.” This statement holds men and women to the same standard.

Employers should consider abolishing dress codes

It is easy to see why an increasing number of workplaces have simply eliminated stringent dress codes in recent years. You often see this in tech-based industries, such as Google, where employees can generally wear whatever they want at work. Such freedom gives employees greater autonomy, which can lead to an increase in employee satisfaction. It is worth bringing up such an idea to your employer is you believe the dress code goes against California law.