As a business owner, one of your goals is to make sure that you avoid litigation when possible. You don’t want to be sued by your employees, you don’t want to be accused of discrimination or harassment and you just want things to go smoothly from a legal perspective.
It is important to know how to respond to these types of allegations, but it’s also wise to think about how you can avoid them in the first place. If you focus on creating the right type of professional atmosphere, it can help you so that you never have to deal with these lawsuits. One thing that you want to think about carefully is instituting a dress code.
Are dress codes legal?
First of all, yes, dress codes are legal. Some employees will complain about them, perhaps saying that freedom of speech means they can wear whatever they want. And it is true that they are allowed to wear anything, but that doesn’t protect them from the consequences of losing their job if they don’t follow the dress code. You will find these in professional offices, where workers may just be told to wear business casual attire, and at businesses where employees are given a very specific uniform that they have to wear on the job.
When can this become problematic?
A dress code becomes problematic when it doesn’t apply equally to various groups of employees within the workplace. It’s important that your dress code doesn’t accidentally discriminate against them.
Of course, you may have no plans to tell workers of a certain gender or ethnic background that they have to dress differently than anyone else. But a dress code could accidentally discriminate.
For example, Maybe some of your workers follow a certain religion. Different articles of clothing are required, such as headwear. Your dress code may say that no headwear is allowed in the workplace. You feel like this applies equally to everyone, but people who aren’t following that religion didn’t want to wear anything special in the first place. So it could be said that your dress code is discriminating against those who do.
This is just one example of how problems can crop up, so be sure you know what steps to take if they do.