Wietrzychowski Quoted on Employers’ Dress-Code RequirementsOn October 23, 2007 by Schnader in Labor and Employment
On October 23, 2007, Schnader’s Labor and Employment Law Practices Group Co-Chair Mike Wietrzychowski was consulted for a Business Week article, “The Issue: A Scruffy Financial Planner,” that illustrates how companies can run afoul of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when trying to enforce their dress codes. Considering a hypothetical example of a high-earning financial planner who rarely meets clients but who is often unshaven and dresses as if to attend a barbecue, Mike said a company trying to maintain a professional image could run afoul of Title 7 if the company tries to disallow beards worn for medical or religious reasons, and bans wearing caps indoors if the dress-code offender wears head covering for religious reasons. “If people are in a back room, maybe you can just scrap the dress code altogether,” says Mike, but making an exception and allowing the high-earning employee to dress as he pleases could cause legal problems down the road. “If you make an exception for a guy who doesn’t wear a tie because he’s a great employee, and then you fire a minority for not wearing a tie, you may have to prove your business decision is right in court. You want to be as consistent as possible. … And consider this: How can the high-earning worker be a ‘good employee’ if he chooses to ignore the dress code?” Wietrzychowski asks.