In various industries, employers throughout the state of Texas require employees to wear uniforms or to comply with dress code standards. Many employers in Texas need to understand their obligations concerning uniform requirements and dress codes for employees to ensure that they remain in compliance with state and federal law. Generally speaking, employers in Texas do not face many restrictions when it comes to requiring uniforms or strict dress codes, but they do need to understand where limitations exist in order to avoid employee discrimination claims or wage and hour claims. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) clarifies employer responsibilities concerning dress code and uniform requirements.
Employers Can Require Uniforms and Can Have Dress Codes
In general, both Texas state and federal law permit employers in Texas to require employees to wear uniforms or to comply with dress code rules. Employers can require public-facing employees to comply with a different dress code or uniform requirement than employees who are not public-facing, and Texas employers can require employees to pay for their own uniforms and for uniform maintenance. Employers are also permitted to take corrective actions against employees who fail to comply with the company’s uniform or dress code requirements according to the terms of their business’ employee handbook.
In sum, employers have significant leeway in requiring uniforms and dress codes for employees, but there are some limits that you should be aware of when you are running your company and managing employees.
Dress Code or Uniform Requirements Cannot Unlawfully Discriminate
Employers in Texas cannot have dress code or uniform requirements that discriminate unlawfully against employees who are protected under state or federal law. For example, an employer cannot require only employees of a certain race to comply with a uniform rule or dress code requirement. Likewise, an employer cannot refuse a reasonable accommodation concerning uniforms or dress codes for employees based on a specific religion or religious practice.
However, the Texas Workforce Commission does clarify that dress code and grooming standards that “distinguish between men and women are acceptable under EEOC guidelines as long as they bear a reasonable relationship to legitimate business needs and are enforced fairly.” Similarly, employers can enforce dress code or uniform requirements when failing to do so would interfere with workplace safety. For example, an employer could require an employee who needs to wear a headscarf for religious reasons—in opposition to the company’s uniform or dress code policy—to take off the headscarf if it poses a safety issue at work. The example the TWC gives is a workplace situation involving heavy machinery where the headscarf could get caught.
Uniform Cost Deductions Cannot Result in an Employee Being Paid Less Than Minimum Wage
Employers should also know that, while they can require employees to pay for uniforms, they cannot deduct those costs from the employee’s paycheck if it would result in the employee being paid less than minimum wage. The employer can deduct costs of uniforms but will need to do so in a manner that does not result in an employee being paid less than minimum wage.
Contact a Frisco Employment Lawyer
For help with an employment law issue concerning uniforms and dress codes for employees, get in touch with the Frisco employment law attorneys at our firm. Contact Simon Paschal PLLC today for more information.