LB - Yavapai Gaming - Bucky's May

Home | Classifieds | Place an Ad | Public Notices | Subscriber Services | 928 Media Lab | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Obits | Yellow Pages | TV Listings | Contact Us
The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : business : business May 22, 2015

6/30/2012 9:59:00 PM
Can dress codes be gender-specific?
SCORE Counselor

The Courier ran a SCORE article a few weeks ago on the advantages of implementing a dress code. This brought several responses from readers who wanted information addressing gender-specific dress codes.

Decorum is the objective for any dress code. You want your employees to appear neat, clean and modestly attired. As Susan Heathfield stated in her article for, "Clothing that reveals too much cleavage, your back, your chest, your feet, your stomach or your underwear is not appropriate for a place of business, even in a business casual setting."

As an employer you can request that body piercings be removed during work hours and that excessive tattoos be covered with clothing, as these - just as rumpled clothing or scantily clad employees - can be offensive to customers. But beware of putting in place a dress code that targets gender specific regulations. That can leave your company vulnerable to discrimination lawsuits.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (CRA) 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. In addition, section 102 of the CRA added a new section following section 1977 to provide for the recovery of compensatory and punitive damages in cases of intentional violations of Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (www.

Writing for, Joanna Grossman, a professor of law at Hofstra University, sites Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins. "In Price Waterhouse, the plaintiff, Ann Hopkins, was denied partnership in an accounting firm, at least in part because she was too aggressive, cursed like a truck driver, and did not walk, talk, or dress in a feminine manner. In short, she was a woman who acted like a man, and for that, she was dealt a career-stunting blow.

"Ruling on Hopkins's sex discrimination lawsuit, the court held that Title VII forbids employers from discriminating against an employee for failing to live up to gender role expectations. You can't, in other words, punish a female employee for not being feminine enough. That sort of gender policing, the court ruled, violates Title VII. In an oft-quoted line, the majority observed that: 'We are beyond the day when an employer could evaluate employees by assuming or insisting that they matched the stereotype associate with their group.'"

Although courts vary in their interpretation of cases regarding gender-specific biases, (see Jespersen v. Harrah's Operating Co.), it is more prudent to have a dress code that applies equally to both sexes, thus avoiding entirely leaving your company exposed to a possible lawsuit.

Robert S. Nelson, in an article for, states, "In addition to discrimination, disparate dress code standards can also subject employers to potential liability for sex harassment. Employees can bring harassment claims if they are selectively required to wear provocative or suggestive clothing (e.g., only waitresses being required to wear short and/or tight skirts). Employees can also bring "stereotyping" claims if they are required to wear outfits that are traditionally "expected" of their respective genders, such as women being required to wear dresses or skirts instead of pants.

"On a related note, dress codes can also spark religious discrimination claims if they unfairly interfere with employees' rights to express their respective religious beliefs. Employers generally cannot impose rules infringing on employees' religious beliefs, unless doing so is a business necessity. 'Business necessity' is a very high standard that generally is only found in situations where health and/or safety are at risk (e.g., requiring male employees who have to wear gas masks to shave their beards, making police wear the same standard uniform, etc.). Consequently, most employers cannot prohibit employees from wearing religious garb (e.g., yarmulkes, burkas, etc.) and/or from carrying certain religious objects."

Be sure to check out the advice at on dress code policies and rely on your SCORE counselor as a resource for guidance in setting up your company's dress code policy.

Northern Arizona SCORE offers "The Best Strategies of Social Media Marketing," presented by Lon Safko, author of "The Social Media Bible," July 21 at Prescott Adult Center. Cost is $49.95 and includes an autographed book. To make reservations, call 778-7438, visit or email

Related Stories:
• Good help easy to find when you know how to look for it
• Boost your business skills by using SWOT
• Customer service - the art of doing business
• How do the new national healthcare laws affect small business?
• Procrastination: Move beyond the rut and get motivated - Part 2
• Procrastination - move beyond the rut and get motivated
• Make first impressions favorable with dress code
• Managing email saves time and customer relationships

    Most Viewed     Recently Commented
•   Rollover or abandoned? (2510 views)

•   Jury selected in ALS murder trial (1932 views)

•   High school graduate channels adversity, enlists in Army as means to serve others (1337 views)

•   Work continues on Capital Canyon Club, opening set for early July (1173 views)

•   Tears flow as 23 retiring staff take leave of teaching in Humboldt Unified (1072 views)

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Article comment by: Homo Sapiens

Note to government: boys and girls are different

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to Facebook character limits. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - We want to hear from you
HSE - dCourier App
HSE- Rants&Raves

Quick Links
 •  Submit site feedback or questions

 •  Submit your milestone notice

 •  Submit your letter to the editor

 •  Submit a news tip or story idea

 •  Place a classified ad online now

 •  Browse the Yellow Pages

Find It Features Blogs Milestones Extras Submit Other Publications Links
Classifieds | Subscriber Services | Real Estate Search | Galleries | Find Prescott Jobs | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Contact Us
LB - Prescott Honda

© Copyright 2015 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Daily Courier is the information source for Prescott area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Prescott Newspapers, Inc. Prescott Newspapers Online is a service of Prescott Newspapers Inc. By using the Site, ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Prescott Newspapers Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info, Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2015 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved