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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

A work dress code could violate gender discrimination laws

As an employee, you believe that your employer should provide you with a fair workplace. You want to be treated with respect and to be treated the same as anyone else.

You found an issue when the new dress code was implemented. Your employer had looked at the men and women in the workplace and decided that they’d implement a new dress code for the women only. He admitted that the men usually came in appropriate work attire, but he felt that the women were coming in outfits that weren’t professional enough.

This is a case where an unfair work dress code could be a violation of federal law, but perhaps not for the reason that you think.

Asking men and women to dress differently is acceptable

In most circumstances, it’s acceptable to have a dress code that covers women and men separately. However, if your employer puts only one dress code into effect that applies only to women, then that isn’t legal. By law, they need to have a dress code that targets all employees in the workplace, even if the outfits required of those employees varies by gender.

Employers are also allowed to enforce different dress code standards for men and women. So, even if you want to have your hair long, your employer may state that you cannot because you are male. Similarly, the employer may require women to have longer hair to support a specific hairstyle for the job.

The rules surrounding workplace uniforms and dress codes are tricky, so it may not always be obvious if or when your employer has violated the law. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has requirements, and there are both state and federal rules that may apply to a case.

You can ask to learn more about the law

If you’re not sure if your employer is on the right side of the law, it may be worth discussing your case with a legal professional. They will be able to give you better guidance on the EEOC’s rules as well as if your employer may have violated your rights by committing gender discrimination.

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