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Ask HR: “Can I ask a new employee to stop wearing sleeveless tops?”

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In the world of human resources, nothing is off-limits. Despite it being pigeonholed as the complaint department, HR is chock-full of tricky and questionable work situations that, if handled poorly, can potentially create costly liabilities for a company. 

That’s where simplicityHR’s Ask HR series comes in! From serious to seriously strange, we’re here to simplify all your burning HR questions. 

To get an expert answer on dress code considerations, we reached out to Michele Kauinui, Director of HR Services at simplicityHR by ALTRES. 

Ask HR: “Can I ask a new employee to stop wearing sleeveless tops?”

Headshot of Michele Kauinui, simplicityHR Director of HR ServicesMichele: Yes, employers can generally craft a dress code policy that aligns with the organization’s culture and image. Having a clear policy in place helps to clarify expectations of appropriate work attire for both employees and supervisors. 

It would be best to have these guidelines in writing and disseminated to all employees, including new hires. A dress code policy is often found in a company’s Employee Handbookwhich should be reviewed with new employees during their onboarding process (or as part of the new hire orientation).  

It’s important to enforce these policies consistently, as failure to do so can create morale issues such as perceptions of favoritism, or in other cases, potential claims of discrimination.    

While creating a dress code policy may sound simple enough, there are many HR considerations to keep in mind. For example, reasonable accommodations may be required in situations involving employees with a medical condition or sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from complying with the dress code. In addition, grooming and appearance standards that are gender-specific may be problematic since they are based on stereotypes.  

To mitigate legal issues, managers should work closely with their human resources department on identifying protected class situations (such as race, religion, gender/gender identity) and managing employee requests for dress code accommodations accordingly 

Got an HR head-scratcher? 

Submit your HR question to our experts (it’s completely anonymous!) and it just might get answered in our next blog article. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers should first consult their attorney, accountant or adviser before acting upon any information in this article.

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