Can my employer withhold pay if I broke the dress code?

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Can my employer withhold pay if I broke the dress code?

I work as a waitress at a restaurant in my town. Recently, my employer enforced a dress code that includes hair in a bun and black slacks. I have informed my employer that I currently have no slacks and will purchase some as soon as time permits. Due to a medical condition with my shoulder, I am unable to pull my hair into a bun, but have been instead pulling it back into a

ponytail. My employer requested a note from my physician. I complied. Today I was to sign a paper that said that I was not properly following the dress code. Can my employer sue me or refuse to pay me for the weeks in which I have been in violation of the new dress code?

Asked on July 1, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) An employer may discipline an employee for violating a dress or grooming code, up to an including termination; the employer could be demoted, suspended, pay cut, shifts changed, or even terminated. BUT pay for work done may not be withheld--that is not something employers may do to discipline employees. Rather, employees *must* be paid for all hours worked, and if not, they could bring a wage and hour complaint to the department of labor and/or file a lawsuit (e.g. a small claims case) for the money.
2) While, as stated, an employer has considerable power to discipline for dress code violations, the employer must make "reasonable accommodations" to the dress code--such as allowing a pony tail in lieu of a bun--for employees with verifiable medical conditions. If the employer does not make or allow a reasonable accommodation for a verified medical condition or disability, the employer is engaging in illegal disability-related employment discrimination. Based on what you write, the employer may be committing such illegal discrimiantion, and you could file a complaint with the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency.


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