Is it discrimination to use a dress code?

Your employer decides to use a dress code at work. You haven’t had one before, so you find it a bit frustrating. But they explain that they simply have a professional atmosphere that they’re trying to create, and this is how they’d like to do it.

However, when you see the actual dress code, it seems far too limiting in some ways. You’re worried that it may be discriminating against you or other employees. Could this be true?

The dress code is not inherently discriminatory

First and foremost, simply having a dress code isn’t discriminatory. They can tell all the workers to wear certain colors or styles of clothing, and that’s fine. You don’t have to like what your employer chooses, but they’re not discriminating against you by telling you to wear it anyway.

When it becomes a problem is if the dress code itself discriminates against a certain group. It may be that adhering to that code is more difficult for them or impacts them more drastically.

For example, perhaps there are workers at your place of employment who practice a certain religion. It requires them to wear a specific head covering. If the dress code says that no head coverings are allowed, that doesn’t affect you at all. You weren’t wearing one to begin with. But this could have a major impact on the employees who practice their religion, and they may even claim that it is a form of religious discrimination.

Exercising your rights

If you do feel like you’re being discriminated against, through the dress code or otherwise, you need to know what steps to take to exercise your rights. Employees should never be discriminated against, and the violation of these protected classes is a serious offense by your employer.

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