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April 01, 2002  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

When Is Appearance an Issue?

Know the limitations of enforcing employee dress codes

Workplace appearance can be a touchy issue if you are not careful in how your regulations are set up. Operators do not have solid grounds to enforce strict dress codes or make hiring decisions based on someone’s appearance. Instead, appearance can only be an issue as it relates to safety, health or the ability of a company to operate profitably or proficiently. What can you do to avoid being at risk? If one employee gets away with something that another employee does not, your operation could be in breach of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion and national origin. Racial and religious discrimination suits commonly sprout out of complaints over hairstyle and traditional ethnic garb. Jason Paul, special education coordinator for Lamers Bus Lines Inc. in Green Bay, Wis., says you must put your expectations in your company handbook and then make sure that your drivers sign for it. “That way you have proof that the driver knows the expectations and understands that they are consistent for everyone,” he says.

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