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Dress Code Complaints: Is Yours Legal?

Lerner & Weiss Jan. 18, 2023

As an employer, you want to present a professional appearance to any customers that stop by the store. To do it, you put a dress code in place.

Unfortunately, your workers complain about the regulations. One even accuses your company of discrimination because of the dress code. Was it legal for you to put this policy in place? Or are you going to need to remove it and allow employees to dress as they wish?

Is It Being Applied to Everyone?

The first question is whether or not the dress code applies to everyone. You can’t have a certain group of employees who are left out or given permission to break the code, resulting in discrimination. For instance, you can’t have a dress code for African American workers and not for white workers, or a code for female workers and not male workers. If you’re applying it fairly to all employees, then it is usually legal.

When Do You Need to Make Exceptions?

The second question is whether or not you’re offering the proper exceptions to those who deserve them. For instance, someone may need an exception to the dress code due to a disability, which they can do nothing about. Someone else may need to have an exception made due to their valid religious beliefs. In the vast majority of cases, these breaches must be allowed or you could be discriminating against those workers.

If you are facing these complaints and the threat of a lawsuit, especially if you think your dress code really is fair and legal, you need to know what legal steps to take.