Can a new plant manager change the dress code of a plant without changing the written policy of the employee handbook?

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Can a new plant manager change the dress code of a plant without changing the written policy of the employee handbook?

A new plant manager was hired a few weeks back and he is making a lot of changes. One of the things he wants is for all the employees to tuck their shirt in; he claims it’s for safety reasons but there has been no accidents caused by a untucked shirt. I would have to agree that their may be some employees in the past who have shown up in baggy clothing that would be deemed a safety risk but the majority of the employees wear shirts that fit. Furthermore, he wants shirts tucked in for safety but he also wants to enforce a policy where we wear safety vests that are way baggier. Can he enforce this rule without changing the actual dress code in the policy book? The only reason I’m ready to buck this is, is because the company has already taken so much away from the employee and they just keep taking. Where does it end? Nothing anywhere in the policy hand book states that shirts must be tucked in.

Asked on April 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Unless such a change violates a written employment contract or union agreement, an employee handbook is not legally binding on an employer (further, is subject to change at the company's discretion). Basically most work relationships are "at will" which means that an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (anbsent some form of actionable discrimination). Accordingly, the change that you describe is legal and failure to follow the new dress code can result in disciplinary action against you up to and including termination.


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