“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Everyone reading this article undoubtedly heard this statement countless times from their parents or grandparents when growing up. In law school and early in our legal careers, we received similar advice from professors and mentors, as initial impressions matter with courts, clients, and opposing counsel.
Because initial impressions also matter to the business community, many companies have adopted dress codes and personal appearance standards: A clothing store requires employees to wear certain clothes from that store. The New York Yankees limit facial hair on the players. A retail store may require its employees to wear a certain uniform; who can think of Best Buy without picturing the ubiquitous blue shirts and tan pants worn by that company’s employees? These dress codes or appearance standards benefit the employer’s business. As recent cases demonstrate, however, no matter how well intentioned, an employer’s desire to regulate the look of its employees can also lead to discrimination claims if handled inappropriately.