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Summer Dress Code Drama Texas Employers Can Avoid

Dress codes can and should fit and be “rationally related” the business. If your Austin business is conservative, you should require conservative dress. If it is stylish, progressive, modern, or stuffy it is best if your dress code reflects that. The only caveat is that if your business is, lets say, distinctly non-conservative, we need to make sure you your handbook is pretty robust to recognize your dressing standards.

Once you decide what your dress code should be, you still need to ensure it stays within the bounds of the law. Dress codes cannot violate the following standards:

  • Dress codes can’t be dangerous. OSHA still applies to every workplace and you will never get away with requiring employees to wear high-heels on uneven or slippery floors. Make sure your dress code is sensible and related to the work the person is doing as well as the perception your company wants to convey.

  • It is OK to have dress code tiers. Dress codes can be tiered but they should be uniformly enforced within the tiers. For example, it is acceptable to allow warehouse employees to wear stained, holy, and loose fitting clothes even if you require your sales team to dress very smart. The codes should be rationally related to the work each tier of employee is performing even if the tiers of employees have dramatically different requirements.

  • Do not create rules that facially discriminate. It is inappropriate to have any rule that targets someone because of race, national origin, or other immutable characteristic. Prohibitions against henna, headdresses, or concealing skin most likely will not be legally appropriate.  Conversely, a prohibition against discriminatory symbols, such as confederate flag shirts or tattoos, is an absolute requisite.

  • Remember the Accommodations. Workplace accommodations extend to dress codes as well. If someone has a medical condition that can be remediated by altered clothing, employers should look to see if those accommodations are reasonable. Specifically, some medical conditions require certain clothing fits, that skin be covered, or that a hat be worn. Religious accommodations may allow for clothing with extra coverage or that individuals wear a skirt. So long as these request are reasonable and the person can still perform the basic functions of their job, employees should generally be allowed to wear these clothes.

Dress codes are one of those issues that employees really fester over. After the dress code is put in place, management should be very vigilant to insist on consistent adherence.  Please let me know if the Lynch Law Firm can do anything to help