A new court ruling in Germany is pitting personal freedom against the rights of employers. The Germany women/bras court ruling applies to employers’ dress codes. Men’s beards and fingernails are also subject to the ruling, though hair color and nail polish are not.
Background to the Germany women/bras court ruling
An airport security company in Cologne-Bonn, a major airport hub in Germany, has very strict rules as a part of the employee dress code. Before the a recent court ruling, employees of the security company were limited to certain hair colors or wigs, could not wear certain colors of nail polish and had to meet grooming standards. Men were required to keep their beards trimmed to a specific length, and women were required to wear white or nude-colored bras.
The Germany women/bras court case
Some of the employees of the German security company took issue with the grooming and dress code standards for their job. A group of them took the case to court, claiming that the standards impeded on their personal rights. The court heard arguments on both sides. The employer argued it should be able to make standards for how employees look and represent the company. The employees claimed that the have the right to decide how they look and that their undergarments and personal style decisions are not for an employer to dictate.
Results of the Germany women/bras court case
The eventual ruling of the courts in Germany is a compromise. The court has agreed with the employer that it is the company’s right to dictate personal grooming and “look” of employees. Women working for the company can be required to wear white or nude-colored bras, though that requirement can be met by wearing an undershirt. The courts also said that the company is allowed to dictate the length of beards. The employer, however, is not allowed to dictate the color of nail polish or color of hair. These legal limitations offer more flexibility than some companies, such as UBS in Switzerland, would like to require of their employees.
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