When Too Little is Too Much: The Dangers of Skimpy Uniforms

[caption id="attachment_650" align="alignnone" width="614"]Hooters Girls Image source: Damncoolpictures.com[/caption] It's hard to list all of the benefits of a team uniform. I can go on and on about how they promote teamwork and company identity, but believe it or not an employee uniform can also save your company from expensive law suits.   Earlier this year in June, California waitress Courtney Scaramella, 23, sued her former employer over sexual harassment claims largely because of a skimpy uniform. According to Scaramella, co-owner Jack Bendetti and general manager Ronald "Ram" McDonnel enforced a new dress code in O'Hara bar that required the female wait staff to wear short miniskirts that were held on by a thin strip of Velcro. Scaramella feared that drunk customers would easily be able to tear off the miniskirts. http://youtu.be/1prEYiTiNPY Scaramella submitted a formal complaint to her employers. The uniforms were removed the next day, but Scaramella's hours were immediately cut and she was fired just three days later. The suit alleges that Scaramella was wrongfully terminated for speaking out against the derogatory working conditions.   Legal battles over uniforms aren't entirely unheard of. In 2011, an attorney represented nine cocktail waitresses who were fired because they were considered too old to wear the new 1920s-style flapper costumes. Elsa Hernandez, 57, said, "I feel used, like I've been thrown out like a piece of trash." [caption id="attachment_651" align="aligncenter" width="448"]Cocktail Waitresses with Flapper Dresses Image source: Abclocal.go.com[/caption] There isn't much point in diving into the specific legal concerns of each individual case, because sexual harassment and employment laws vary so much on a state by state basis. Still, it's important to use these legal battles as case studies for your own business. A poorly designed uniform can lead to law suits or severe employee dissatisfaction.   It's easy to overlook these concerns. After all, most business owners don't want to parade around their female employees in sexy, revealing outfits. If your uniforms require dress shirts and slacks, then what could go wrong? Well, odds are certainly good that you'll be in the clear, but you should still be sensitive to the preferences of your employees. You might want to ask your employees about your next uniform. In the best case scenario they could give you insight or clever design ideas; even in the worst case scenario your employees will appreciate that you considered their opinions. [caption id="attachment_652" align="alignnone" width="600"]Waitresses with Skimpy Uniforms Image source: Baltimoresun.com[/caption] Overall, just try to be considerate about your employees. A little bit of thoughtfulness when you design your outfit can make a big difference between disgruntled employees and a happy working environment.
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