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Claim your Basic Employee Rights, Issue #04
July 07, 2009
Employee Rights News You Can Use
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Date July 7, 2009
What is a workplace dress code?
Workplace dress codes are values employers create to guide their employees about what’s suitable to wear on the job. There are different dress codes for different workplace situations. The varieties of employee dress policies involve casual, business casual and business formal. How employees look on the job in my humble opinion is nothing more than a "costume" designed to project a specific image. The particular type of employee dress code is normally determined by how much contact workers have with the public.
In recent years ethnic, cultural and sexual preference grooming issues are also being drawn into the question of an appropriate workplace dress code. Employees that sport afros, dreadlocks, corn rolls, plats, ponytails, multi-colored hair, tattoos, body piercing and more are finding themselves at odds with employer dress codes. This in turn puts employers at risk of race, gender, religious and disability discrimination lawsuits.
If a company has a dress code policy that treats groups differently it will have to provide a legitimate business excuse for it and offer reasonable accommodations for employees negatively impacted by it. I've had "white collar" jobs and "blue collar" jobs and each has been very inconsistent in explaining during the interview process what the specific business dress should be if any. California makes it illegal for companies preventing women from wearing pants in the workplace.
Any dress code should be communicated clearly to all in the workplace affected by it. Plainly stating what the dress code is and isn't has to outline appropriate guidelines for employees to follow and any disciplinary action they can expect for failing to abide by it. All disciplinary actions for violating a dress code must be accurately documented and applied to all employees equally.
As an employee I review very carefully and make sure I understand any and all company supplied policies, procedures and guidelines including dress codes. If my employer's dress code contains words like "required", "must be/have" or "mandatory" instead of words such as "requested" or "recommended", then I'm going to scrutinize the penalties for dress code violations VERY carefully.
WHY? Courts will look at any adverse employment action such as reprimands, demotions, transfers, terminations, etc. based on dress code, as needing to be justified by a legitimate workplace safety or health consideration. If I lose my job because my employer doesn't like my mustache it may have to show my mustache posed some health or safety risk either to myself and co-workers.
So what is casual dress? As I mentioned earlier the "casual dress" trend in recent years seems to have spiraled out of control and many employers are now scrambling to put the "genie back into the bottle". We may soon see employers’ attempting to undo the “casual dress” phenomenon because of the complications of deciding what suitable workplace clothing is.
All the Best,
FMLA and absenteeism
Has your boss threatened you over problems with absenteeism? Now for sure if you are abusing your employer's leave policy you are asking for negative consequences. However, in the U.S., if you submit a FMLA form for the absence your company cannot discipline you for it. The leave does not need to be extended for say several days. The FMLA can be for one, two days or even a couple of the first hours of work.
How to use FMLA;
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Your Basic Employee Rights eNews is published the first week of the month, 12 weeks per year. From time to time we will publish special features that affect employees in the workplace.
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Written by Yancey Thomas Jr.
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