Dress code rules at work may appear to be a simple matter. That is, until the dress code becomes a legal matter. When a company’s policy becomes an unduly intrusive, sexist dress code, employment law intervenes to guarantee that workers are treated equally.
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is specifically relevant in such cases. This federal Act is intended to guarantee that historically disadvantaged groups are treated equally and fairly at work. It outlaws discrimination based on specific protected characteristics at all levels of employment. This implies that discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, gender, religion, or handicap is prohibited by federal law in any company with more than 15 workers.
The legislation applies to a wide range of work actions, from hiring and firing to promotions and rewards. Most importantly, the Act can overturn a company’s dress code requirements if they discriminate against specific employees based on one or more of the protected categories specified. For more information, contact Carey & Associates, P.C.
The Dress Code Dilemma and Title VII
An immediate issue with dress code definitions occurs when the dress code policy itself results in discrimination against some protected groups at work. Most typically, in this scenario, prejudice stems from religious ideas regarding clothes that conflict with workplace regulations.
To bring equality into the workplace, Congress ruled that American businesses must accommodate a worker’s religious convictions as long as they do not cause undue hardship for the company. Such accommodations include giving a Muslim worker space and time to finish afternoon prayers and allowing a worker to wear his yarmulke to work.
The concept is that the constitution’s freedom of religion mandates extend into the workplace and that no employee should be treated differently than other workers simply because they practice a specific religion, nor should a worker be denied the right to reasonably observe religious beliefs while at work due to the company’s dress code definitions.
The reasonable accommodations factor
Reasonable accommodations are a common issue that arises while dealing with dress code issues at work. As previously stated, Title VII requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees who need to practice their religious beliefs while at work. This sometimes involves permitting religious clothing or even religious styles such as wearing a beard or other physical characteristics.
According to the legislation, any reasonable request to accommodate such religious activities shall be allowed. A request for religious accommodation is reasonable if it would not cause undue hardship to a company. An experienced employment law attorney can tell you more, so schedule a consultation today.