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Dress Codes in the Workplace: Avoiding Potential Discrimination Claims

Barry Walsh



Dress code discrimination in the workplace was recently featured in The Guardian and has become a growing issue in the UK following a parliamentary report. Click here for link. While such issues are currently less high profile in Ireland, dress codes are used by many employers in Ireland for legitimate reasons such as communicating a corporate image or to encourage a sense of professionalism.  If an employer intends to implement a dress code policy, it must ensure that any dress code is proportionate to the objective, thereby avoiding any claims or perceptions of unlawful discrimination. Accommodation for disabled employees must also be considered where an employee’s disability prevents them from being able to fulfill the requirements under any such policy. Discrimination issues on grounds of religion might also need to be considered as seen in the UK case of Eweida v British Airways where a cabin crew employee was prohibited from wearing religious items as it breached the employer’s uniform policy. That case went all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.