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Workplace dress codes in California can sometimes be unlawful

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2019 | Employment Discrimination, Firm News

It probably comes as no surprise that California employers, generally speaking, have the right to create workplace rules and policies that their employees are expected to follow. Employers have leeway to enforce these rules, including firing an employee who breaks them.

These rules often serve good ends and may even be there to prevent things like harassment and discrimination. However, employees in Fresno and the other communities of Central California and Northern California should remember that their employer’s rules must be legal.

Specifically, these policies must not create a situation either in which employment discrimination is effectively allowed or in which a worker’s rights under California law or the laws of the federal government have otherwise been violated. In addition to being illegal in their own right, such rules are not enforceable and cannot be used as a reason for disciplining an employee.

One good example of a workplace rule that commonly comes up in workplace discrimination cases is a company’s dress code. Generally, California businesses can establish a way they want their employees to dress, and many even require a uniform.

However, dress codes cannot have the effect of discriminating against a protected group. For instance, a dress code that seems to prohibit only the styles worn by particular cultural groups while allowing others more liberality with regard to dress would be suspect.

Moreover, both federal and state-level regulatory agencies view dress codes as rules for which employers can rather easily make exceptions. As such, someone who, for example, needs accommodation for religious reasons or for reasons related to a disability could ordinarily expect some flexibility.

Someone who feels that a workplace dress code, or any other workplace policy, is in fact a means of discrimination may have legal options under both federal and California law. It is important that these individuals take the steps they feel are necessary to address the situation.



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