Enforcing an employee dress code can be particularly challenging in the summer months, when employees may seek to adopt a more casual approach to clothing and footwear. While tanks tops and flip-flops are certainly more comfortable in the hot weather, they don’t often project the professional atmosphere that many companies strive to maintain.
So what can employers do?
If you do not have a formal dress code, the first step is to draft a written policy and require employees to acknowledge that they have received and read it. Employers can generally institute any type of dress code policy that meets their needs. For instance, they can ban flip-flops, require all employees to wear suits, or mandate that all tattoos be covered.
To avoid potential discrimination issues, employers should be flexible when it comes to accommodations related to national origin, religion or disability. For example, an employee with a leg injury may need to wear sneakers, which are otherwise banned by the policy. Unless doing so would result in undue hardship, employers should grant such requests.
If you already have a dress code policy in place, summer is often the peak season for violations. The month of June may be a good time to send out a “friendly reminder” regarding the dress code requirements.
To avoid potential disputes, the policy must be enforced across the board. Making exceptions or inconsistently targeting employees for infractions can also lead to allegations of discrimination.
If you have any questions about summer dress code policies or would like to discuss your company’s compliance concerns, please contact me, Christina Michelson, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work.