Workplace Dress Codes: The Issue We Love To Discuss But Hate To Manage


Many people have strong opinions about what constitutes appropriate work attire and could spend hours expounding on their favorite brands of clothing or personal care products. Ironically, our passion for fashion is often coupled with a reticence to actively manage workplace dress codes.

The reasons for this reticence are well founded. Errant comments about a colleague’s physical appearance could be used as evidence of unlawful harassment or discrimination. For example, the comment that a female employee should “walk more femininely, talk more femininely, dress more femininely, have her hair styled, and wear jewelry” if she wanted to make partner at an accounting firm was held to be direct evidence of unlawful sex stereotyping.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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