Is it legal for a manager to force employees to buy and wear the company’s clothes if the handbook says that employees don’t have to?

I have worked for an upscale department store chain for 1 1/2 years and have read the handbook multiple times. It says that employees are not required to wear the companies clothes. However we just got a new manager and she is trying to force everyone to buy them or they won’t get scheduled to work. She also says that if anyone is working there just for a paycheck, then they don’t need to work there. Keep in mind that these are all college students working for this company and we barely have enough money to live, let alone buy expensive clothes.

Asked on August 23, 2011 Arkansas

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Your manager is breaking the law. If this is an upscale department store chain and the corporate handbook does not require you to wear company clothing, then you need to inform her in writing and inform corporate that a) she is discriminating by only scheduling those individuals who can afford to wear the clothing and b) that by discriminating against employees based on income, she is breaking labor laws and that the handbook clearly states the broad language of the clothing you are not limited to wearing. You should address this directly with corporate personnel if you do not wish to approach her directly. Furthermore, you cannot be fired/terminated in retaliation for bringing this to the attention of the company's corporate personnel and if nothing goes your way on this matter, you have the State's Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to back you up.


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