Dress Code Issues in the Workplace

by Dana Severson
Some employers ask their associates to wear a suit and tie.

Some employers ask their associates to wear a suit and tie.

No one thinks twice about wearing a suit to an interview. It’s a mark of respect, a display of your professionalism and a clear indication that you want the job. But employees are far from shy with their disapproval of workplace dress codes. People often feel they should be able to wear what they want if they’re doing a good job, and that can create issues when a dress code is in place.


Years ago, the only things you found pierced were people’s ears. But times change, and it isn’t uncommon to see pierced noses, eyebrows, lips or even cheeks. This can pose a problem with many dress codes, especially when employees deal with customers. An employer may ask you to remove piercings, but he must have the same rules for both men and women.


Like piercings, tattoos have become commonplace, and people with more visible body art are often met with prejudice when it comes to employment. Managers are less likely to hire someone with body art than those without. As long as the tattoos can be covered, you shouldn’t have an issue with getting a job or adhering to a company’s dress code policy.


Though hairstyle is sometimes seen as a form of self-expression, issues do arise in business environments. Companies have instituted grooming standards when it comes to an employee’s hair — both head and facial. Your employer may ask you to style your hair professionally and groom facial hair. However, if it goes against your religious beliefs, such policies are considered discriminatory. Most employers are far more lenient when it comes to hair for this reason.

Casual Attire

Many companies have adopted a more casual dress code. But one of the main problems with this change is the definition of "casual." What one person considers casual another may find inappropriate. How short is too short when it comes to a skirt? Is it OK to show your shoulders or must all shirts have sleeves? Should all shirts have collars and be tucked into pants? And what about open-toed shoes? If a woman can wear a strappy pair of sandals, is it OK for a man to wear flip-flops?

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

Photo Credits

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