Can a school require you to dress a certain way when you teach?

| May 21, 2021 | Employment Law |

When you’re teaching, you want to be comfortable. You like your hair styled the way you want and to have clothing that fits the circumstances in your classroom.

Schools do have a right to ask teachers to dress within a specific dress code, but that is not to say that the dress code itself can’t be discriminatory. There are times when dress code requirements don’t make sense and could be a violation of your rights.

Can a school dress code require specific hairstyles?

A dress code should not, at this point, have specific hairstyles that are or are not allowed, especially if the styles that aren’t allowed are typical for people of color. For example, teachers should not be banned from wearing braids or dreadlocks.

The dress code may ask teachers to keep their hair a natural color or to keep it neat, but administrators need to be cautious about restricting certain styles.

Can a school require female teachers to wear skirts or dresses?

To avoid claims of discrimination, it’s necessary for public schools to create neutral dress codes. Women should not be forced to wear heels, skirts or other outfits that are gender-specific except for in cases where they are required to complete the job. For instance, if a female teacher wants to wear a pantsuit, there should be no issue with that.

Treating either gender differently in a dress code can lead to legal trouble for school administrations. If you feel the dress code is unfair, speak with your school’s principal. If you cannot get the issue resolved, you may want to learn more about your legal rights.

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