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When does the dress code become discriminatory?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | Employment Discrimination

Let’s face it – the business world is super competitive. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses make every effort to stand out. Part of this involves requiring employees to dress in a particular manner.

A dress code, in and of itself, is perfectly legal. However, there are times when an employer may cross the line. If this happens, the law entitles you to bring a workplace discrimination claim against your employer. But when exactly can this happen?

Here are two instances when a dress code can be problematic:

1. When it discriminates against your gender

Gender discrimination as it relates to workplace dress codes can be quite subtle. Most often, male and female employees will wear near-similar outfits with very minimal differences. For a dress code to be deemed discriminatory, however, you must show that it placed a heavier burden on you and co-workers of your gender than the others. For instance, if your employer requires female employees to wear dresses and heels while your male colleagues do not have to adhere to any dress code, then you might have a case against them.

2. When it discriminates against your religion

Most religions have rules regarding how followers should dress and groom. This may include wearing headgear and keeping facial hair. If the employer, in full awareness of your religious persuasion, compels you to dress in a manner that infringes upon your faith, you may have a discrimination case against them. For instance, if your faith requires you to wear headgear and long dresses, your employer may not compel you to wear overly revealing outfits like miniskirts.

A dress code can help a business maintain a certain brand image. However, if the dress code is subjecting you to less favorable treatment, you need to find out how sound legal advice can help you assert and safeguard your workplace rights.