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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49773
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My current employer is looking to enforce after summer that

Customer Question

My current employer is looking to enforce after summer that all female employee's are to wear skirts. I am aware of a number of staff who are unhappy at the propect of this and my belief was this would be sexual discrimation since for over six years female employees have always had the option to wear pants or a skirt. Is there any ground to attempt to prevent this becoming enforced and left as an option?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to be able to assist with your question today. Whilst it is certainly possible for employers to have such dress codes, they should be applied sensitively and with certain exemptions, otherwise it may indeed amount to sex discrimination.

There has been some case law on this actually (Smith v Safeway, which held that as long as the employer applies a comparable or equivalent standard of smartness across both sexes, the employer will not be acting in a direct discriminatory manner. Usually discrimination will only occur in these cases where employers have not had an even-handed dress code policy for both sexes. However, that may not be easy to justify so there is still a risk of such requests being discriminatory.

The other issue is that female employees of certain faiths may have an additional claim for religious discrimination if wearing a skirt goes against their religious beliefs of covering their legs.

Finally, such a policy may be in contravention of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to freedom of expression), when taken together with art.14 (the anti-discrimination right). However, there is no case law to back up such an argument yet.

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