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Ask the Lawyer: Can my employer force me to wear a men’s uniform?

Joseph McCormick June 12, 2017
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PinkNews brings you the latest in a series of features which sees your real questions answered by leading lawyers at Simpson Millar.

The question comes from a person who works for an airline and who has been made to wear a male gendered uniform.

Air steward wearing a skirt

They ask: “I work for an airline, which requires different uniforms for male and female staff. My employer wants me to follow the male uniform standards – is this allowed?”

A Simpson Millar lawyer answers, saying: “The requirement to wear a uniform is not uncommon in the workplace, nor is the requirement for gender-specific uniforms.

“The important factor is that the requirement to wear such uniform is not discriminatory. Any dress code must apply to all employees equally, regardless of their sex, religion or belief, marital or civil partnership status, race, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, age or disability – these are known as ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010.

“Therefore, it can be justifiable for your employer to require men to follow male uniform standards and women to follow female uniform standards, provided of course that such a requirement does not have a more strict or detrimental impact on one gender than the other.

“An example of the latter would be the type of cases we have seen in the media recently, for example employers making it a requirement for female employees to wear high heels. This has been highlighted as being a cause for a potential sex discrimination claim, on the basis that wearing high-heeled shoes can have a detrimental impact on a person’s health.

“As a general rule, the law does not prohibit a gender-specific dress code requirement, therefore your employer is not acting illegally in asking you to follow the male uniform standards.”

If you are uncomfortable with the dress code in place and have questions about your options, please get in touch with one of Simpson Millar’s Employment Law solicitors on 0800 260 5005 or click here to request a call-back.

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Disclosure: Simpson Millar is a PinkNews advertiser

Related topics: Ask the Lawyer, Ask the Lawyer with Simpson Millar, simpson millar

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