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HR Insights: Dress Code Violations

Debra Fowler, SHRM-CP | Director, Compliance & Policy


Expert answers to common HR questions: What to do when an employee violates a dress code (Dress Code Violations).

HR Insights


Help! One of my employees showed up to a client meeting wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops, violating our company's business casual dress code policy. How can I address this without damaging our relationship with the client or creating conflict with the employee?


It sounds like the employee took the “casual” part of business casual a bit too seriously! While it can be awkward to address dress code violations with employees, it's important to do so in a way that is respectful and constructive.

You can start by having a private conversation with the employee and explaining the importance of dressing professionally for client meetings and the impact their clothing choice has on a client's perception of the company. You can provide suggestions to the employee on how to dress more appropriately for client interactions in future and provide examples of acceptable business casual attire.

There is also a safety issue at play – wearing flip flops to work, even in an office environment can cause a trip and/or fall injury. Remind the employee of the company’s commitment to workplace safety and that wearing flip flops in the workplace is not allowed.

This doesn’t need to be a disciplinary conversation – unless this isn’t the first time the issue has been addressed with the employee. If the employee was unaware of the dress code policy or there were extenuating circumstances, be sure to listen to their perspective and address any concerns they may have. It's also important to follow up with the client to acknowledge the dress code violation and reassure them of the company's commitment to professionalism.

It may also be beneficial to send a friendly email reminder to all staff about the dress code requirements, including an explanation of why these guidelines are in place, emphasizing safety considerations and the positive impact they have on employees and the overall success of the business.

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