Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Dress codes and gender biases

Women are prohibited from showing their bare arms.
Women are required to cover their dress with a second layer.

These are two new rules the Missouri House of Representatives enacted for its current term. It did not enact any new dress code policies for men. That's a big discriminatory problem. 

If your workplace has a dress code that treats men and women differently, it's time for a new dress code. It violates Title VII on its face. By assigning appropriate attire based on gender it violates the long-standing Supreme Court interpretation of Title VII that sex-based stereotypes are illegal, and further could violate the rights of certain LGBTQ+ employees. 

How about you instead show some trust in your employees and have a dress code policy that simply says, "Dress professionally." Trust your employees to make intelligent and business appropriate decisions about what they wear to work. If they fail, counsel them on their failure on your meaning of "professional." If they repeatedly fail, then escalate to discipline or worse. This isn't rocket science; it's basic performance management. 

One more thing. If I worked in a workplace that required "women" to cover their arms, I'd be dressing like Samuel L. Jackson every single work day.