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Can dress codes constitute a form of discrimination?

Many Indiana corporations and businesses want their employees to maintain a professional look or a style of dress that comports with the values of the company. A dress code is generally not a problem. However, if a dress code is being unfairly applied in certain circumstances, it could constitute a type of discrimination.

As Chron.com explains, sometimes a dress code may pose problems for groups that are protected under law from discrimination. For example, your company’s dress code should not burden people who identify as religious by banning religious wear. Bans on native wear may also run afoul of the law. Basically, dress codes that seem to single out Christians, Muslims, Native Americans, Hispanics or other such groups can become a legal issue for the company.

Additionally, company dress codes should not unfairly burden people with disabilities. Sometimes a disabled employee cannot fulfill all aspects of a required manner of dress. Whether it is because of an inability to move arms and legs or if the person is unable to walk and must use a wheelchair, a disabled worker should be given certain allowances in dressing for work or the company could be sued for discrimination.

There may be instances when an employee is infringing on a legitimate dress code. However, while addressing the matter with an employee, a superior in the company should not make the employee uncomfortable. A female worker who may be wearing inappropriate or revealing attire should be addressed professionally so that the discussion does not constitute harassment.

Keep in mind that this article is not written to provide any legal advice. It is only intended to inform the reader about discrimination topics.

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