Dress Codes

When an employer issues dress and grooming policies, its strongest position is to communicate and justify dress and grooming requirements based on objective job requirements. A strong connection between dress or grooming and job performance will place the employer in the best position to defend its policy to employees.

A key factor to look at in determining whether a personal appearance and dress code is justified is the nature of the work performed by the individuals. The business has a recognized interest in ensuring that employees who deal with customers promote a good public image. Thus, the dress and grooming requirements for sales personnel may be different from employees working in the maintenance area.

Another factor that should be considered in establishing dress codes is safety. Long hair or dangling jewelry can be especially hazardous in performing certain job duties.

An employer can generally require different grooming standards for women and men. For example, a rule that restricts hair length only on men is not sexual discrimination against men. An employer may forbid visible body piercings and require that tattoos be covered while at work, especially for employees who deal with customers.

It is recommended that your dress code policy be written, distributed to all employees, and reviewed periodically. In the policy, stress the importance of dress and grooming to customer service and in presenting a positive image of the business. Use clear language in the dress code with examples of what is and what is not acceptable. Avoid terminology like "proper", "reserved", or "appropriate" since these descriptions are subject to an individual's interpretation. Dress code policies can be communicated as part of the orientation materials given to new employees, and the policy statement should be included in the employee handbook.

Should you have questions about dress codes or other employment policies, you may contact SESCO Management Consultants by phone at 423-764-4127 or by email at sesco@sescomgt.com .