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From the length of one’s hair, to the number and location of visible tattoos, to recognizing gender non-conformity style, to creating 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 are 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 from 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?
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 ae treated fairly and equitably.
Dr. Susan Strauss is a national and international speaker, trainer, consultant and a recognized expert investigator 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 private sector.
Dr. Strauss also provides organizational, management, and employee development by conducting training, coaching, and facilitating workshops. She has been the Director of Training and Development and consults with a variety of organizations and industries, both large and small. Susan has also been the director of Wellness and has consulted with organizations to help them design, develop, implement and evaluate their Wellness programs.
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 professional certificate in training and development. She has been involved in the harassment and bullying arena since 1985.