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Can Lawyers Serve Justice in Sweatpants?

Or is a jacket required? Photo by <a href="">Viorel Sima</a> via Shutterstock
Or is a jacket required? Photo by Viorel Sima via Shutterstock

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"Professional attire" is a fluid concept in the Bay Area —anyone who rides Muni knows that there are more commuters in t-shirts than ties— but some employers still want to see an old-fashioned collared shirt at the office.

Since 1996, the San Francisco Superior Court employee dress code has banned tank tops, cutoffs, beachwear, gym clothes and "thong-style" sandals, and required workers to "maintain a professional, business-like appearance appropriate for an institution that serves the public in the vital function of delivering justice." A 20-year-old dress code usually doesn't pique our interest, but ABC-7 news says that court workers were out in full force on Thursday to protest the dress code. Why the sudden sartorial dissatisfaction?

The court's dress code may have been on the books for years, but it wasn't enforced. In December, court employees received a memo to remind them of the dress code. When that wasn't enough to curb staffers' casual ways, supervisors began writing up workers for violations, and even sending them home to change. Court executive officer Michael Yuen told ABC-7, "I've seen sweatshirts, sweat suits, track suits. This is not a gym, it's a court."

The employees (and their union) aren't willing to give in to the fashion police without a fight. They argue that the crackdown is unfair because they're wearing the same clothes they wore to work last year. (Plus, complying with the newly-enforced policy meant that some employees had to spend money on a new work wardrobe.) The court employees union, SEIU, filed an unfair labor practice complaint over the dispute. At least now we'll get an official ruling on whether it's okay to deliver justice in sweatpants.
· San Francisco Court Employees Protest Dress Code Crackdown [ABC-7]
· What the eBay Fashion Team Wears to Work [Racked]