Printable version Is the shirt and tie sexist? A civil servant who complained about having to wear a collar and tie to work has won a sexual discrimination case. Matthew Thompson, who works at the Jobcentre Plus office in Stockport, Greater Manchester, complained that men had to wear formal clothes, while women were allowed to wear T-shirts, and even football shirts.
Do you agree with the ruling? Is the shirt and tie sexist? Can you suggest an alternative dress code? This debate is now closed. Read your comments below. I don't have too much of a problem with wearing a collared shirt and smart trousers at work, but I detest wearing ties.
They're uncomfortable they make you feel like you're being choked , inconvenient, they get in the way of what you're doing , and women are under no obligation to wear them but men are. My workplace reintroduced shirt and ties for men, while women could get away with T-shirts, combat trousers and trainers. What's wrong with a tie-less open collar if a man is otherwise neat and tidy in his appearance? Ties are uncomfortable and pointless! Gavin, London, UK I think if we saw what was acceptable in society years ago we'd get the whole thing in perspective, it's not the clothes we wear, so long as we are clean and clothed what does it matter.
Christ wore robes, Shakespeare wore breaches, then let's look at the hair issue! We could go on and on criticising another's appearance yet we teach our children don't judge a book by its cover. If someone feels strongly they don't wish to wear a certain garment then who are we to impose our expectations on them, does it affect their performance and service - I doubt it, service with a smile and who cares what they wear.
I say let's have individuals not employ clones. A tie is one of the most uncomfortable pieces of clothing a man can wear, mind you some of the things people wear which aren't visible the mind boggles whether comfort comes into it at all! Phil Holden, UK Leave the uniform protests to school kids James Price, UK If you were unemployed and seeking guidance on applying for jobs, would you take advice from a man who is himself too lazy to dress professionally for work?
Leave the uniform protests to school kids James Price, UK I agree that it is not about sexism but rather about looking smart. How many of you out there would feel confident in a GP's ability if you walked into their office to find them sporting full Hawaiian regalia? Andrew, UK As a DWP frontline employee of a certain age I have never had any objections to wearing a collar and tie to work - I joined the former Employment Service to help provide a public service.
What the DWP's heavy handed dress policy has eroded is my right to choose what I wear. Whilst I applaud the ruling I fear that DWP will get its revenge with more draconian, more serious staff measures - its moves on sickness management, performance related pay are already clearly sign-posted. Many current DWP District management edicts on dress do in fact prescribe what women staff mustn't wear, and in many ways reflect prevailing male managerial prejudices disguised as policy. The Taliban is alive and amongst us yet!
James, UK It is yet another case of someone wanting to make easy money Mark, UK Being someone who hates wearing a tie, I can very much understand the grievance this has caused, and in this day and age of "equal opportunities" you certainly can't have one rule for women and a different one for men!
So fair play - if he doesn't like wearing a tie then good result. But for him to say he has "injured feelings" and his human rights have been breached is just plain silly! Anyone with half a brain can see quite clearly that it is yet another case of someone wanting to make easy money and finding it all too easy with the state of European law as it is!
Mark, UK I have to admit that I wear a collar and tie at work, but this is my choice. I would suggest that if a company requires a set standard of dress, then the fair way is for the company to provide a corporate uniform. This should help prevent any discrimination of either gender, and yet still provide a business like appearance.
Maybe the only requirements should be to be dressed neatly and cleanly and not in jeans. I think that'd be fair to both. Trish, USA I want to be served by smart people, not scruffs Chris, United Kingdom When I go into a place of business, I want to be served by smart people, not scruffs who look like they'd rather be on a beach on the Mediterranean.
No wonder this country's going down the tubes when we have anti-traditionalist whingers like this wasting the time of our judges. Chris, United Kingdom The dress code is not discriminatory, but it seems that women were just being unfairly disregarded in its application. Equal rights means equal responsibility to the rules. Good for Mr Thompson. Barry Pump, US The shirt and tie itself is not sexist, but quite obviously insisting that men wear the traditional formal dress of shirt and tie, whilst women are allowed to wear whatever they like is blatantly sexist.
Furthermore, I fail to see what implication your style of dress has on your ability to do your job well. Maybe this is one reason that British industry is in such a mess - its filled with people who are inept at their jobs, but who wear a nice shirt and tie! Simon Moore, EU Ties are just the start of the problem.
Philip, Chepstow Ties are just the start of the problem. What about all the special consideration that women get over and above men in all other areas? Dare we ask about the differences in maternity and paternity leave, or the fact that women are often given more flexible working arrangements than men because of "family responsibilities" that somehow some employers seem to think that men do not have.
Philip, Chepstow Hurray for Matthew! And how nice to see the tribunal took a sensible, fair-minded view. I consider ties old-fashioned and uncomfortable and the view men can't be smart without one is just a ridiculous convention. Oliver, UK The shirt and tie are not per se sexist. What is sexist is the enforcement of discriminatory dress codes. If the men have to wear shirt and tie, then the women should have to wear similarly appropriate clothes.
It concerns me, though I am not surprised, that the DWP let this case get so far. Who in the right minds could argue that the policy they sought to enforce here was anything but discriminatory? But that's the civil service for you.
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA I cannot believe that tens of thousands of pounds of tax payers money are being wasted on this case. Perry, UK It is about creating an impression and not about equality. Stewart, UK Ask yourself one question. Why is Matthew Thompson wearing a shirt and tie in his photo. It is about creating an impression and not about equality.
I have never seen a judge or any other professional wearing sunglasses and Hawaiian shirt at work. Perhaps the next case the union will take to tribunal is the right for men to use female toilets and vice versa. Stewart, UK I think that the case is fuelled more by the lure of compensation than equal rights. For how long have men worn ties without complaint? Stuart, UK Considering the Sexual Discrimination Act came about in , I am amazed it has taken over twenty-five years to come to this - at last!
Did the management at DWS not realise how ridiculous their policy was when it was first pointed out? The discrimination aspect aside, it's draconian to impose shirt and tie rules on backroom staff whether they are male or female. David, UK It seems clear that many people are missing the point here. The first rule of dress for any business should be to "dress like your customers. Maybe if the management of Jobcentre Plus thought to ask their clients about this employee dress codes they might be surprised to discover that they don't actually give a hoot provided they are treated fairly and with respect.
Rick, UK The comment from the Department of Work and Pensions spokesman that pending an appeal "we are asking our staff to continue to dress in a professional and business-like way. The whole point is that it is only men who are required to adhere to a strict dress code, women can wear pretty much what they like which is discriminatory John, UK A tie is unnecessary and a discomfort Gary, England How dare the Department of Work and Pensions consider appealing against this decision.
If they do, they are in effect saying that men must dress formally, whereas women can dress casually. That is unfair, and in this day and age many men feel as I do, that a tie is unnecessary and a discomfort. Nigel, UK Wearing a tie is an obsolete, uncomfortable, pointless, and in many workplaces a dangerous thing to do.
I'm all for having to wear smart clothing in the office, but not a ridiculous strip of material dangling from your neck. Simon Gutteridge, United Kingdom I agree with the verdict. I was made to remove my earring at one job because I was male- but it was ok for women to wear earrings!? Bobby Ganola, UK Men have the additional expense of acquiring a suit Jim, UK I hope this is the start of a countrywide assessment of the sexism that exists in the dress codes at work. Women wear casual and fashionable clothes for work without the requirement for a suit.
Some turn up looking like any old clip. I think the main problem is cost. Women can use their current clothes for work but men have the additional expense of acquiring a suit, shirts and tie which otherwise would not be their causal attire. If the current state of play is to continue then men should receive payments from their employer for their required work clothes. Jim, UK The ruling is correct. The shirt and tie is not sexist. The women have been able to get away with far too much. Charles, UK Would it not have made more sense to have ensured that women were also made to dress appropriately?
If this had happened, there could have been no discrimination case in the first place. After all it is supposed to be a professional place of work, not a night in the pub.
Marc, UK Yes it's sexist. But, come on, it is hardly a big deal. It is not offensive like topless calendars or bottom pinching.
It is not as though this guy had a medical or religious basis for his objection. Is it really worth all the fuss? Robert, UK In a more formal setting, men always have the greater advantage. Women's business dress is much more uncomfortable and restrictive than a man's shirt and tie.