When Your Employer Tells You to Dress Sexy

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What would you do if your manager told you to shorten your skirt a little?  Sadly, this has been the reality for many women who work as servers in Canadian restaurants.  They have been reporting that their workplace requires them to wear revealing clothing.  Since the current labour market favours the employer, it makes it challenging for employees to stand up for themselves when their employer crosses the line.  Here are some tips to help you handle this difficult situation in a way that will allow you to keep both your dignity and your job:

Clarify the expectations.  Just because everyone else is wearing revealing clothing and your manager seems to encourage it does not necessarily make it a requirement.  Try not to jump to conclusions.  Ask your manager what the expectations are in terms of the dress code.  Only after you are clear on your employer’s requirements can you determine whether or not it will work for you.

Express your concerns.  It is important that you let your manager know how you feel about the dress code.  They may have no idea that it makes you uncomfortable.  If you politely explain to your manager how it makes you feel, they might be willing to make an exception or change the expectation altogether.

Make a decision.  If your manager is unwilling to budge, then you have a choice to make; do you stay or do you go?  You might decide that you are willing to accept the revealing clothing as part of the job, you could hand in your resignation today, or you may decide to tolerate the dress code until another opportunity presents itself.  The key is to make your decision and move on; try not to allow resentment to grow.

Throughout your career, situations will come up that will both push and test your boundaries.  It is up to you to decide where you are willing to compromise and where you are not.  While it’s important for you to pick your battles, you should never do anything that contradicts your fundamental values.  If an employer demands that you cross that line, the job is probably not right for you anyway.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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