Employment Law

Employment Lawyer on Workplace Dress Codes and Human Rights

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Every worker in Canada should be aware of their rights as employees to make sure that no company is taking advantage of them, as well as to ensure that the company is in accordance with regulations for their own safety.

A common complaint in workplaces can be the infringement of their human rights and the requirement to have a dress code that reinforces harmful stereotypes – such as demanding women to wear short skirts, tight clothing, and revealing clothes.

With this in mind, it is imperative that we look over what employers can and cannot ask of you. On the next short topics let’s look over your Employment Lawyers in Calgary on human rights and how they relate to dress codes in the workplace.

Your Human Rights

One of the most important documents you need to be aware of is the Canadian Human Rights Act which applies to all people in Canada regardless of their status. Within it, every person is protected from being discriminated against from any Employment or service within federal jurisdiction. All people must be treated equally regardless of colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disabilities, etc.

Employment Lawyer Calgary must make sure that on a daily basis, you are not being met with discrimination and do everything in their power to stop it when it happens. 

The Canadian Human Rights Act also tackles things like equity in pay, harassment, discriminatory policy and practices, and retaliation as well as more. The purpose of this Act is to ensure that every person in Canada has their rights protected and that everyone has the same access to opportunities for a better life. While not the only document that tackles those problems, the Canadian Human Rights Act is definitely one of the most important ones.

Dress Codes in the Workplace

Firstly, let’s set that dress codes in the workplace are legal in Canada as long as it is based on grounds of necessity and does not discriminate against any category. It is not uncommon to have dress codes that vary between men and women, but they should not be ground for a discrimination claim such as forcing women to wear sexy clothes.

Recently, more and more claims of discrimination against dress codes that forced women to wear stereotypical revealing clothes have been getting attention and are being ruled in favour of women instead of the company.

Some workplaces may require you to have a specific dress code based on the needs of the company. A construction company may require that you wear all PPE at all times while at the site to comply with safety standards, or a law firm may require that you wear formal attire and be well-groomed, those requirements should not be difficult to uphold and most likely will not give legal problems to the company.

Policies that reinforce gendered discrimination are hard to defend in Court as they are very likely to infringe on the human rights of protected categories. Gender non-conforming people may be uncomfortable with gendered uniforms, and women may be uncomfortable having to wear clothes that show cleavage for example.

Employees that are terminated due to not feeling comfortable fitting into the dress code may have a case of discrimination on their hands based on discriminatory policies that reinforce derogatory stereotypes.


Companies should always be aware of their policies, infringing the human rights or rights to privacy of their employees may cause a big problem with legal consequences.

More and more gendered dress codes are falling out of practice in order to make every person comfortable in their workplace, especially women, 2SLGBTQ+, and gender non-conforming people.

While dress codes are definitely legal, they must only deal with grounds of necessity due to the nature of the work. People should never feel unsafe in the workplace, and should not have to discuss their sexuality or gender identity with their employers unless they feel comfortable and ready to do so.

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