FIRST IMPRESSIONS 101 « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Maintaining Workplace Dress and Appearance Codes

As one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, many employers make it their business to specify a dress code policy, particularly for workers who regularly greet and work with the public.  Setting such standards is a proper commercial practice of course, so long as management is well-trained on fielding good faith requests for reasonable accommodation based on religious beliefs or practices.  See, March 4, 2011 article, Accommodating Religion in the Workplace, Avoid the Employment Discrimination Gallows.

Of course, some companies simply require uniforms.  In a business office where employees choose their daily clothing, the dress code issue should balance the level of professionalism management wishes to convey to the public with common sense.   For instance, a set of standards that is on the overly restrictive, micro-management side of the scale might adversely affect morale. On the other hand, a vaguely worded policy that permits “casual” could be misread as condoning “sloppy.”

Dress code policies can cover any limitations on hair styles, jewelry, and “body art” as well as specify a higher level of professional appearance on particular occasions, for example public gatherings and presentations.   It is also proper to spell out management’s option to request a clothing change in the event an employee comes to work in a style or manner out of synch with the intended standard.

For help creating workable, legal employee policies, contact us about our signature handbook and forms.