PROPER FASHION POLICING « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


The Limits to Dress Code and Appearance Standards

To promote business image, California employers may dictate reasonable workplace dress and grooming standards.  Yet, managers cannot be dictators if certain protected worker preferences are in play.

Policy may require employees to dress in a neat and well-presented manner and to report to work well-groomed and clean.  Employers can require uniforms and direct their good maintenance and cleaning.  They may also prohibit or limit use of perfumes or other scented body lotions for those working in physical proximity with others.  Policy may bar displayed tattoos and body piercings.

Yet, written standards must also recognize and management must seek to reasonably accommodate certain individual conditions or choices protected by law, including:

●   physical disability as affects dress or appearance;

●   employee gender identity or gender expression;

●   protected hairstyles (as racially based, including braids, locks, and twists); and

●  sincerely held religious beliefs, observances or practices.

Take Aways: Company policy can and should direct dress and grooming standards supporting that business’s commercial values while recognizing the prerogative of workers to seek and maintain protected exceptions.  Managers must have sufficient training and skill to address, document and resolve requests for reasonable accommodation.

See also:

· Hairstyle Discrimination Banned – New California Law Takes Effect January 1, 2020(July 11, 2019)

· Dress for Success – How to Address the Employee Dress Code (April 29, 2018)

· New Transgender Rights in the Workplace (Expanded California Regulations Effective July 1, 2017) (July 21, 2017)

For further assistance, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth orHelena Kobrin.

Tim Bowles
May 20, 2022

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