Discrimination Risk: Dress Codes

The risk of discrimination when imposing workplace policies that apply equally to all employees but may disadvantage certain nationalities and religions has been a point of focus recently, particularly in respect of dress codes in the workplace.

Two cases of relevance have been brought before the European Court of Justice recently involving bans on employees wearing religious symbols at work which have resulted in claims of direct religious discrimination.* The ECJ decisions are awaited but if it is found to be the case that certain manifestations of faith are inseparable from the faith itself, employers may find that their dress code policy contravenes that and could therefore be directly discriminatory.

In the meantime, it is recommended that employers audit their policies to identify the any potentially discriminatory elements and whether justifiable business reasons exist for them.