Sex discrimination case over tie sent back to court

A landmark case in which a male office worker won the right not to wear a
collar and tie on the grounds it was discriminatory, has been sent back to an
employment tribunal for reconsideration after an appeal.

Jobcentre Plus employee Matthew Thompson originally won a sexual
discrimination case on the grounds that he was told what he had to wear while
female colleagues at the branch in Stockport were not.

However, the Department of Work and Pensions has now been given leave to
contest this by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), stating that the original
employment tribunal considered the wrong issue when making its judgment.

The EAT said: "The question for the employment tribunal was whether,
applying contemporary standards of conventional dresswear, the level of
smartness which Jobcentre Plus required could only be achieved for men by
requiring them to wear a collar and tie."

Up to 7,000 other cases are said to be waiting on the outcome of Thompson’s
challenge, including more than 40 cases involving male Jobcentre employees.

In another row over office dress, the AA (Automobile Association) is in
dispute with staff at its Roadwatch operation at the company’s flagship site in
Stanmore, North London over a ban on jeans and T-shirts.

The ban is part of a review of the dress code across the whole organisation
that now requires employees to dress ‘smart casual’. Staff at Roadwatch, which
provides online and telephone traffic reports, are objecting.

AA Roadwatch manager Graham Webb said staff had asked for a review of the
code and expected a resolution "within the next couple of weeks".

By Mike Berry

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