Following the Supreme Court’s decision In Bostock v. Clayton County, the nation’s employers know it’s illegal to discriminate against transgendered employees under Title VII of the Human Rights Act of 1964. With this in mind, here are some of the best practices for building an inclusive and non-discriminatory dress code policy:
1. Stay gender neutral:
Most employers run into trouble when a dress code specifies appropriate clothing for female and male employees separately. Not only are these kinds of dress codes regressively normative, they can place unnecessary stress on employees who should be focused on getting their work done. For example, rather than stating women should wear dresses and men should wear slacks, keep your dress code gender neutral by mandating all employees wear business casual attire, or whatever your office’s dress code may be.
2. Keep things open ended:
Too many specifics can also be dangerous for employers. Rather than providing employees a list of specific articles that are deemed appropriate, leave your policy open-ended. For example, simply state employees should dress appropriately and professionally for their role. Leaving your policy open to interpretation allows management the opportunity to step in where clothing is inappropriate for an employee’s job but is not so restrictive that employees feel required to wear clothing that feels uncomfortable or offensive to their identity.
3. Make sure managers never cross the line between “enforcement” and discrimination:
Open ended policies-while a great way to provide a sense of freedom to employees-can be a double-edged sword if management is not properly trained on how to implement these policies. Managers should understand that less prescriptive policies are not an excuse to implement his or her own interpretation of appropriate dress, but to ensure that employees wear suitable clothing for performing tasks.
If you have questions about building a dress code policy for your team, contact us for a free, 30-minute consultation with an employment lawyer.