Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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and gender-nonbinary employees not be forced to choose between a female and male dress code when they don't necessarily present or identify as either male or female. Additionally, these types of gen- dered dress codes force transitioning workers to choose a moment to "come out" to everyone via the dress code, whereas without a gendered dress code, they can come out to different people in their own time and by their own preferred method. Gendered dress codes can not only make employees uncomfort- able, they can also create situations where employees are more likely to deal with gender-based customer harassment, by empha- sizing an employee's gender and putting it on display in a conscious way. Oodie Taliaferro, a barista at Cultivar Coffee in Houston, once worked at a company that had a mandatory Fancy Friday. "It read in the handbook as being very gendered. Men were to wear a shirt and tie on those days and women were to wear a nice blouse or dress." When Oodie wore makeup and bold lipstick for Fancy Friday, they (Oodie uses they/them pronouns) were sexually harassed by a regular, leading them to avoid makeup entirely on future Fridays. They typically dress on the more masculine side of the spectrum, and although they never got in trouble for it, they were technically in violation of the policy for wearing a shirt and tie as opposed to a dress or blouse. A nongendered dress code would have left more freedom for baristas to set the narrative in a way that allowed them to give their best customer service without increasing their likeli- hood of sexual harassment. Note that it should also be supported if employees do want to wear dresses and lipstick or a shirt and tie; cafés should have a strong policy in place to make sure harassment like this is addressed. But specifi cally in this case, the gendered rules around "fanciness" created an increased likelihood of harass- ment, whereas gender-neutral ones could have allowed employees to defi ne their own comfort zone. For employers with dress codes on the looser end of the rules spectrum, it's still important to make sure to avoid gendered policies in the rules that do exist. For instance, if a café has a rule against showing bras or bra straps, it would be much better to craft a nongen- dered rule that bars all employees from wearing transparent tops or showing undergarments. Similarly, if sleeveless tops are against the rules because of health code, they should be against the rules for all employees all the time, not just for employees of certain genders. RULES ON HYGIENE Rules on hygiene can make a lot of sense from a health and pro- fessionalism standpoint, but they can also facilitate unintentional discrimination or bias if not carefully and specifi cally worded. For instance, it's important to avoid general, unspecifi c hygiene rules like "employees must have excellent hygiene" or "employees must maintain a high standard for personal cleanliness." These rules aren't specifi c enough to realistically address hygiene issues in the café; they put managers in a position to use their judgment, with no guidelines as to when employees have actually violated policy. For example, when an employee has a strong body odor, there is no way for a manager to prove they have that odor because they aren't wearing deodorant or have poor hygiene; there is also no real way for them to do anything about the employee's body odor without knowing whether the issue actually stems from poor hygiene. This general rule against poor hygiene actually gives neither the manager nor the employee the necessary guidance to avoid or address a violation. Instead, it's better to create specifi c policies like "employees must not wear scents to work," "employees must wash hands when coming back from breaks or switching stations," or "employees with hair past their ears must wear their hair pulled back while on shift." These are 110 barista magazine

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