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Consumer Reports

Attire too sexy? Employers can ban it | (KRT) Here's what's happening in the world of work:

Ban on "sexy" dressing: "Courts around the country, mostly federal courts governing states such as Illinois and California, are permitting businesses to ban what employers call "sexy" dressing in the workplace," reports Eric Matusewitch, deputy director of the New York City Equal Employment Practices Commission.

And what is "sexy?" Matusewitch, who has worked on equal employment opportunity issues for 20 years, says the courts put it this way: "It's considered attire that is particularly revealing and of extreme fit, such as spandex, and also use of excessive makeup."

In response to charges by female employees that such codes discriminate against women, Matusewitch points out that "courts are holding that employers have a right to set reasonable dress and appearance codes.

"They state there is no sex discrimination if the codes apply equally to men and women. So, if men are required to dress conservatively, employers can require women to avoid tight, `flashy' and revealing outfits."

What's revealed to me by the courts' stance is what women wear still is considered "provocative" and what men wear still is considered a matter of "grooming."

"In general, courts are stating that the appearance of company employees may contribute greatly to its image and success with the public - and that a reasonable dress or grooming code is a proper management prerogative," the director said.

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Fortunately for Britney Spears, she's not job hunting.

Ban is justifiable: When I recently quoted a hiring officer who says she will not interview job applicants who use the stationery, e-mail or fax of their current employers, I was inundated with howls of protest from job-seekers who see nothing wrong with doing so. Some pointed out that their companies allowed them to utilize these resources after they were laid off.

Still, I agree with the hiring officer: It's not a good idea. In fact, it's suspect. And that includes your resume.

"Many of my clients want to include their work e-mail or phone number on their resume," said Kathy Sweeney, president of The Write Resume, a resume-writing and employment-coaching firm based in Phoenix.

"I advise against it because the first question a potential hiring manager may wonder about is whether a candidate will search for a job on their time, too," she said.

And Sweeney adds this further warning: "Using a company e-mail address is a kiss of death because many businesses have a strong policy about use of their e-mail - and violating those rules can result in job candidates being terminated from their current position."

No ban on thanks: Asking for help in finding a job or advancing your career means absolutely that you have to say thank you - as often as possible.

"Communicating with those who have helped you is not simply a courteous act," said Joan Chesterton, a consultant and retired professor of organizational leadership at Purdue University.

"Letting people know the results of their recommendations and thanking them for their work is sound business practice."

She adds: "Each profession creates its own small world where the quality of relationships matter, where knowledge is shared, where help is offered, received and acknowledged. Stay in touch with those who helped you."

Thank you so much, Professor Chesterton.

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Carol Kleiman is the author of "Winning the Job Game: The New Rules for Finding and Keeping the Job You Want" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.). Comment by clicking here.


© 2004, Chicago Tribune Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services