Tattoos, Sandals, Yarmulkes, Dress and Appearance: Increasing Legal Challenges for Employees and Employers
Dr. Susan Strauss is a national and international speaker, trainer, consultant and a recognized expert on workplace and school harassment and bullying. She conducts harassment and bullying investigations and functions as an expert witness in harassment and bullying lawsuits. Her clients are from business, education, healthcare, law, and government organizations from both the public and the private sector.
Dr. Strauss has conducted research, written over 30 books, book chapters, and journal articles on harassment, bullying, and related topics. She has been featured on 20/20, CBS Evening News and other television and radio programs as well as interviewed for newspaper and journal articles such as Harvard Education Newsletter, Lawyers Weekly and Times of London.
Susan is the recipient of the Excellence in Educational Equity Award from the Minnesota Department of Education for her work in sexual harassment in education. She has spoken about sexual harassment at international conferences in Botswana, Egypt, Thailand, and the U.S. She consulted with the Israeli Ministry of Education, as well as with educators from Israel, England, Australia, St. Maartin, Bali, and Canada. She traveled to Poland and conducted research on sex discrimination and sexual harassment in Polish workplaces with Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. She has consulted with health professionals in Beirut regarding violence in healthcare. Susan has a doctorate in organizational leadership. She is a registered nurse, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and counseling, a master’s degree in community health, and a professional certificate in training and development. She has been involved in the harassment and bullying arena since 1985.
From the length of one’s hair to the number and location of visible tattoos, to recognizing gender non-conformity style, to create a summer dress code, employers are facing an increased need to determine their organization’s culture and policies, as well as following federal and state laws. How does an organization balance employees’ rights to express themselves with the organization’s rights to determine its legitimate business needs while maintaining an inclusive work environment? The pitfalls for employers are many. More businesses are likely to face these issues especially now that research is confirming these types of biases exist broadly across U. S. workplaces. The potential for organizational errors is plentiful. Organizations expect employees to use sound judgment in their dress and grooming, however, what if the employee’s sense of dress and grooming varies in the organizations? After all, types of self-expression have become more commonplace with society demonstrating more acceptances in people’s choices of self-expression—shouldn’t the workplace reflect this change in social rules too? Religious dress and dress that defies gender stereotypes are the two areas that are the most challenging for employers. These issues and others will be discussed.
- To discuss legal issues surrounding Dress and Appearance in the workplace
- To list specific elements of a Dress and Appearance policy
- To explore the role of unconscious bias and stereotypes play in discrimination through dress codes
- To identify prevention tactics to ensure employees are judged by their performance and not on stereotypes
- Guidelines by the EEOC regarding dress at work
- Body art
- International dress
- National Labor Review Board’s take on a dress
- What should be considered in writing your dress code
- Religious dress
- Sex stereotyping dress
- Political dress
Who Should Attend
- Managers throughout the organization
- Directors throughout the organization
- Human Resources generalists, managers, directors
Why Should You Attend
Dress codes are receiving a fair amount of attention in the courts these days. There have been a number of precedent-setting lawsuits dealing with dress codes’ requirements and how those requirements, even inadvertently, discriminate against potential and current employees based on their gender, religion, and race, to name a few. It is critical that human resources professionals and managers understand the importance of a discriminatory free dress code to ensure all job candidates and employees are treated fairly and equitably.