The Equality Act of 2010 Is In Question After Employee Sent Home From Work

You read that right – a female employee in a London accounting firm was sent home a little over a year ago for failing to wear shoes with a mandatory 2-4” heel. This story was in the news recently because the United Kingdom announced that it would enforce its Equality Act of 2010 by banning similar discriminatory dress rules in the workplace and fining businesses that violate this law.

What is the rule in the United States? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that in “general, an employer may establish a dress code which applies to all employees or employees within certain job categories.” However, this policy maintains that certain exceptions must be made for employees with specific religious beliefs and practices and that employers must make accommodations for these employees unless to do so would result in an “undue hardship.” The key portion of this policy is that whatever dress code rules are mandated must apply to all employees regardless of gender, race and religion. So if an employer mandated that its employees wear a 2-4” heel, that policy would apply to both men and women.

If your employer has a dress policy that sets different standards depending on your gender, contact the firm to discuss your situation.