Dress Code and Grooming Policy
Dress Code and Grooming Policy Preparation Form. We recommend that you gather the information in this form prior to accessing the online questionnaire. Doing so will help you efficiently create your custom Dress Code and Grooming Policy.
Employers should tailor this Dress Code and Grooming Policy to reflect the employer’s particular business environment and organizational culture. Although not required by federal law, employers may establish dress codes and grooming standards that apply to either:
- All employees.
- Employees within certain job categories.
Potential Issues with Regulating Employee Dress
Employers and companies adopting a dress code policy should be aware of the potential implications under federal laws. For example, important federal laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers should avoid establishing, maintaining, or enforcing dress codes or grooming standards in a manner that discriminates against protected classes under federal, state, or local laws.
There are common types of potential discrimination claims that may arise from seemingly neutral dress code and grooming policies. These claims often arise from policies that disproportionately affect applicants or employees possessing protected characteristics. Some examples include the following:
- Race: Courts have found that a no-beard policy that prohibits men from having facial hair in the workplace disproportionately impacts African American males. These decisions resulted because some African American males have a medical condition that prevents them from shaving. For example, one case was remanded to determine if the employer had a legitimate business justification for the policy.
- National Origin: Some policies are likely to be discriminatory based on national origin. For example, a policy that prohibits certain types of ethnic clothing while allowing casual dress is likely discriminatory.
- Religion: one example is a policy that prohibits head coverings in the workplace. This may impact job applicants and employees with certain religious beliefs that require them to cover their heads in public. Such individuals are entitled to reasonable accommodation absent undue hardship. With varying degrees of success, plaintiffs have also claimed religious discrimination based on a requirement to conceal a tattoo or piercings.
- Sex or Gender: requiring women to wear skirts in the workplace while allowing men to wear pants may be discriminatory based on sex under Title VII. “Sex and gender” includes discrimination against transgender individuals based on their gender non-conformity. Additionally, state law may specifically state that refusing to allow an employee to wear pants because of their sex is unlawfully discriminatory. However, there may be certain exceptions for uniforms and costumes.
- Disability: applicants and employees with disabilities are protected under the ADA. Absent undue hardship, employers should consider and grant requests by individuals with disabilities who need a reasonable accommodation regarding a dress code or grooming requirement.
Accordingly, employers should draft gender-neutral dress code and grooming policies carefully to address those issues for which they have a legitimate business justification. They should also consider drafting different standards for different job classifications. Examples include employees working in the warehouse section of the company, or those working in the front office. Employers can incorporate this Dress Code and Grooming Policy into an employee handbook or use it as a stand-alone policy. The clauses comply with federal law. However, employers should modify this policy to reference and comply with any applicable state and local laws because they may impose additional or different requirements.
Compliance with the National Labor Relations Act
Both unionized and nonunionized employers must ensure that they comply with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when developing and implementing policies.
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