Most companies want to create a professional image and the majority of employees are happy to follow along with this. Looking smart is one of the best ways to create a good first impression with clients, so attire is important.
However, when employers impose a dress code, they must make sure it does not single anyone out based on protected characteristics. Outlined below are some examples of when a dress code can be discriminatory.
If a dress code is required then it should apply to all members of staff. For instance, it is unfair and potentially discriminatory to require women to wear makeup, heels and skirts but have no dress code requirements for male employees.
Differences in dress code themselves may not amount to discrimination, but when one gender faces undue hardship then an employer could be held to account for this.
Dress codes also have the potential to be discriminatory if they single out a particular religious group. For instance, if the company requires women to wear short skirts, this could go against some religious practices of dressing modestly.
There is also potential here for sexual discrimination to arise. It’s important to note that this form of discrimination can also impact men. For example, if the business requires all men to be clean-shaven, this can go against the principles of some religions.
You should not feel ostracized by the dress code your workplace has implemented. Seeking legal guidance will give you an indication of whether or not you have a legitimate claim for discrimination.