I have never worked anywhere that required me to wear a uniform, but everywhere I have worked has had a certain dress code. Though some businesses were more slack on their dress code than other employers of mine, dress codes were something that was important to follow.
I have been to many restaurants where some servers have to wear suits and others are wearing t-shirts. I think the main objective the employers want to get out of dress codes is uniformity. It’s important when walking in to a business that you know who works there, especially a place of business where you are being served or assisted.
Starbucks in Manhattan has had issues with whether their version of uniformity conflicts with their employers’ rights. Scott Eldridge, and attorney from Michigan wrote an article in the August 2012 SHRM Magazine about the issue. From 2004-2007, after the Industrial Workers of the World began a campaign to organize wage workers in four of Starbucks’ stores, Starbucks prohibited any of their employees to wear more than one pro-union button on their uniforms. The first ruling by the judge with the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) determined Starbucks violated the NLRA. After Starbuck’s appealed the ruling to the 2nd Circuit, they rejected the decision of the NLRB claiming, “Starbucks is clearly entitled to oblige its employees to wear buttons promoting its products, and the information contained on the buttons is just as much a part of Starbucks' public image as any other aspect of its dress code.”
I couldn't agree more with the second ruling. I believe employees should be treated fairly by their employers. The key to this story to me is employers. Employers pay their employees to do the job each employee applied for, and when accepting the job, agreed to oblige to all of their rules. If the employees disagree with the practices and dress codes of Starbucks, they never should have agreed to work there in the first place.
I do think it is important for employers to be very upfront about their dress codes. It is essential to let employees know that uniformity is important to the company’s image and to take dress codes seriously, even if the dress code is casual.