I’m Too Sexy for This Job from #SHRM12

Fired for Being Too Sexy at Work

Keep your shirt on and make sure it doesn’t have too low of cleavage. Because if you’re too sexy, you could lose your job, though you’d have legal recourse.  Buzz Rooney wrote about uncomfortable conversations at work when it comes to certain female assets like cleavage.

At SHRM 2012, HR professionals learned they could more closely regulate the image portrayed by employees up to a certain point. In his presentation, I’m Too Sexy for My Job!, lawyer James McDonald, said men are not typically too sexy as it has a gender connotation.

“Be alert for the “too sexy” at work before it becomes a problem,” McDonald said. “Enforce a policy against improper comments. Make sure your dress code and personal conduct code is up to date.”

Earlier this year, a woman lost her job because of her excessive cleavage, despite working for an upscale lingerie shop in Manhattan. Laura Odes lost her job two days after being hired because she refused to “bind down” her breasts as requested. The case is ongoing though it’s possible the IRS could win in the settlement. Something employees should think about when searching for that clingy skirt to wear.

Too Sexy or Cleavage Leaves a Negative Impression

In my years as a college recruiter and career and internship coordinator, I warned students repeatedly not to dress sexy or be distracting. Some of today’s fashions like towering stilettos and tight pencil skirts scream louder than my advice however. I totally understand how some companies give up and just adopt a uniform for employees, as ugly as some polyester and khaki uniforms are.

Though you have to reasonably accommodate employees in cases of religion, employers can regulate dress, tattoos or piercings if they could become disruptive or a safety issue. For instance, if a head covering or long beard could be caught in machinery, employers have the right to not allow them.

But there’s a fine line to walk when it comes to religion. Employees have no right to accommodation in cases of scripture tags in email such as “Have a Blessed Day,” displaying religious posters, proselytizing, or criticizing morals of coworkers. Just because you may not wear a skirt showing leg doesn’t mean you have the right to berate coworkers who do. It’s disruptive.

Sexy Employees Have Feelings Too

HR policies should address ALL employees, not just the sexy ones. And someone tell Right Said Fred to get his shirt back on. I’m trying to get some work done.

Heather Dutcher is a Community Manager at Xceptional HR and Blogging4Jobs #SHRM12 Conference Correspondent. Experienced in journalism, marketing, and college career services, she gets the bigger HR and workplace picture. You can follow her on Twitter @heatherdutcher.

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