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Uniforms, Dress Codes, and the FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not prohibit employers from requiring employees to follow a particular dress code or wear a designated uniform. However, it does prohibit employers from requiring employees to pay for uniforms, if such costs would cause an employee’s pay to drop below the minimum wage. This article provides basic information to guide employers in developing dress codes or uniform standards in a manner that complies with the FLSA.

Wage Deduction From Final Paycheck Narrowly Allowed by Ninth Circuit

Ward v. Costco Wholesale Corp., No. 11-56757 (January 9, 2014): In a recent unpublished decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s decision that Costco Wholesale did not violate the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) or the California Labor Code when it deducted the outstanding balances due on company-guaranteed credit cards from the final paycheck of each discharged employee.

DOL Opinion Letter Clarifies Rules On Footwear.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued an opinion letter addressing two issues involving employer requirements that employees wear a specific kind of footwear to work. The questions posed by a restaurant were as follows: (1) whether the requirement that employees wear a certain type of footwear makes such footwear a "uniform" under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); and (2) whether permit-ting employees to pay for shoes that comply with the employer's policy through a payroll deduction constitutes an impermissible deduction from wages.


It has long been industry practice for employers, including many in the hospitality industry, to require workers to wear clothing of a particular kind or appearance. What many do not realize is that this practice can have significant ramifications under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. If your clothing policy violates the FLSA, "everybody does it" will not be a defense. A new U.S. Labor Department guidance letter has added at least a little clarity in this area.
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