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Attire too sexy? Employers can ban it

By Carol Kleiman
Syndicated Columnist
Chicago Tribune
March 3, 2004

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."

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.

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