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Dress Code Policies—Time for Change?

By on Apr 11, 2019 in Human Resources | 0 comments

Dress Code Policies – Time for Change? By Maggie Johnson     In theory, a dress code policy for the workplace could simply consist of two words—Dress Appropriately! However, it seems that employers feel compelled to write policies containing long lists of what and what not to wear in the workplace. Since a vast number of companies have adopted business-casual guidelines for the workplace, isn’t it time to lighten up on rigid dress code policies? In March this year, as reported by the Washington Post (March 21, 2019), even Goldman Sachs, known for its immaculately business-clothed company representatives, officially changed its dress code policy to a “firm-wide flexible dress code.”   Tattoos, Facial Jewelry and Wild Hair   Some dress code policies state that tattoos must be covered, facial jewelry, such as nose, eyebrow and tongue piercings, are not permitted at work, and hair styles must be conservative. That just doesn’t seem to fit in today’s society with its mostly millennial workforce. In certain circumstances, the last restriction could be construed as discriminatory. In fact, the New York City Commission on Human Rights announced, “[G]rooming or appearance policies that ban, limit, or otherwise restrict natural hair or hairstyles associated with black people generally violate the New York City Human Rights Law’s anti-discrimination provisions.” The Commission identified protected hairstyles as “Natural hair or hairstyles that are closely associated with their racial, ethnic, or cultural identities.” These would include cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots and Afros. Even if your company isn’t operating in New York City, how long do you think a similar law might be enacted in your district? As for tattoos, a 2017 survey reported that more than 25% of the US population have at least one tattoo. That’s a lot of covering up by a lot of people before they enter their workplace in the morning! On October 2014, Starbucks changed its dress code policy to allow employees to openly display their tattoos at work, so long as tattoos are tasteful and not on the face or throat.   Unequal Punishment   Company dress code policies often stipulate that an employee who comes to work dressed in attire that management does not approve of must go home and...

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