How to Address Employees With Inappropriate Clothing

Inappropriate clothing can be distracting and may decrease office productivity.

Inappropriate clothing can be distracting and may decrease office productivity.

When an employee dresses inappropriately -- wearing revealing clothing, displaying tattoos or piercings or donning something equally shocking -- it's up to the company managers or human resources officers to address the problem. This can be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it's important to do it in order to maintain professionalism in the workplace.

Establish a clear dress code for your workplace, if your company does not already have one in place. Dress codes can vary depending on the company, but typically, company policies include an "appropriate attire" section, detailing what employees should wear for various situations, as well as an "inappropriate attire" section. Also included in many policies is a set of consequences for when an employee doesn't follow the dress code; for example it could start with a verbal warning for the first offense. On the second offense, the employee may be sent home, and on the third offense, the employee may be suspended or fired. Collaborate with managers to develop your policy, and then ask for employee input, so they'll feel in the loop about what's OK and what's not, and be able to add additional requirements. Once you've created the policy, post it in the employee handbook and in a public area of the workplace. If you already have a policy in place, review it so you are familiar with the rules.

Send an email or message to the employee, asking her to attend a private meeting, and keep a copy of the request for your records. If there are other managers with whom you work and who supervise the same employee, ask them to attend. Be discrete when asking for the meeting; keep the meeting private between you and the other people who will be attending. Do not gossip about the meeting with other managers or employees.

Print a copy of the dress code policy so you'll have it on hand during your meeting. If you've developed the policy to include a written warning for the first offense, type and print the written warning, stating specific ways the employee has violated the dress code.

Stay positive during the meeting with the employee, letting her know that you value her contributions to the company and that you want her to succeed. Then review the policy and cite specific examples of how the employee has violated the policy. Hand her the written warning, if appropriate. Allow the employee time to respond to your warning, and don't be surprised if the meeting gets emotional. At the end of the meeting, remind the employee of the next step in the complaint process, so she'll be aware of what will happen the next time she violates the dress code.

Report to your supervisor or to human resources officers following the meeting, detailing the topics of conversation and any other details you feel the officers need to know. Human resources officers may ask you to provide documentation such as meeting notes or a copy of your written warning to put in the employee's file.

Tip

  • If the employee continues to disregard the dress code, be sure to follow the company's policy for the next step, and always keep your supervisors in the loop about how you're handling the problem.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images