If you work for a company that has a dress code that you believe discriminates against you in some way, can you sue your employer for workplace discrimination? The answer depends on a variety of factors.
As explained by the Houston Chronicle, employers have the right to impose dress codes as long as they have a valid business reason for doing so.
Valid business reason
What constitutes a valid reason for having a dress code usually depends on the type of business your employer is in. For instance, if you work for a professional organization and regularly interact with customers and members of the general public, your employer has a valid reason for imposing a dress code that specifies that you wear traditional business attire, not jeans, shorts, tee-shirts or other extremely casual clothing.
As another example, if you work for a restaurant or other food service company, your employer has a valid reason for its dress code requirement that neither your hair nor your jewelry comes into contact with the food.
Whatever dress code your employer has, however, it must not run afoul of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This means that it cannot discriminate against you on the basis of one of the following:
- Gender or gender identification
- Sexual orientation
For instance, if you suffer from diabetes that affects your feet, your employer cannot force you to comply with its dress code that requires the wearing of dress shoes. Or, if the dress code calls for the wearing of a uniform, but your skin is allergic to the fabric out of which it is made, your employer cannot force you to wear it.