Employment and Labor Law Violations in the Fashion Industry

Perhaps more than most, the fashion industry is built on the image. Brands entice us to accept our identity the way they project by using cultural clues, models, products, research, and educated assumptions about what’s now, the future, or what should be preserved as classic or fashionable. On the other hand, building these pictures sometimes runs clashes with societal norms and anti-bias laws or is perceived to run afoul of them.

Fashion retailers face more than just discrimination regulations; the desire to create and project a particular image account for many of the industry’s unique employment law issues. Aside from the employment problems, there are sometimes unpleasant claims of racial profiling or exclusion, in which a merchant is accused of harassing minority shoppers on the grounds that they are in the store not to shop but to shoplift.

Fashion is one of the world’s most diversified industries today. Everyone gets dressed in the morning, and practically everyone cares about how they appear, regardless of ethnicity, creed, color, sexual orientation, or other factors. Employees of color, homosexual and straight, male and female, may be found in practically every high-end fashion house.

Claims of discriminatory treatment of employees can cause tremendous damage to any brand, whether the allegations are truthful or not. Shoppers avoid shopping from the brands they perceive as unfair to a group or class of employees.

The fashion business, on the other hand, maybe particularly vulnerable. How can a company embrace one image while claiming to reject another?

Fairness in recruiting and handling customers must be a principal focus in the high fashion industry. Any such allegations must be addressed before they are raised. First and foremost, the message that diversity is a part of, and indeed crucial to, the brand must originate from the top. This must be represented in objective and unbiased recruiting and promotion practices and clear external and internal messages, such as internal policies, training, advertising, and online marketing.

Sales operation and specific aspects of the retail environment floors in high-fashion lend themselves to accusations of bias. Employees are expected to convey the brand’s image while performing their duties. Employees must look attractive, but they must also convey the brand’s image through their attire and conduct.

Accusations of handicap discrimination have frequently been leveled against high-end retailers. Fashion companies must reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities—those who require leaves of absence that may be disruptive to a schedule, especially during peak season; those whose disability affects their appearance, whether due to a pre-existing condition, injuries, or surgery; and those who may, as a result of their disability, be unable to work.

However, under federal and state law, the employee must prove themselves that they can perform their job even if she is allowed to remain sitting.

The law defines a disability as “any physical, physiological, mental, or psychological impairment, or a history or record of such impairment,” which an employer must accommodate if the “disability is known or should have been known” to the employer. That accommodation obligation contains a potentially long interactive process and careful consideration of each employee-requested accommodation until the employer is assured it can prove that any accommodation would have created an undue hardship or would have been ineffective.

If you require professional employment law representation due to discrimination at the workplace, mistreatment, harassment, wrongful termination, or any other issue, Attorney Ani Azadian offers skilled employment legal assistance. No one deserves to have their job placed in jeopardy, and no one should have to put up with discrimination or other offensive actions or behavior at the workplace.

Ani Azadian established Azadian Law Group, PC, to help people overcome legal conflicts and find future success. She focuses on defending workers’ rights and has been doing it for years on national and international levels. She keeps up with the ever-evolving workplace laws, standards, and procedures that address harassment and retaliation protection issues. For more information, visit www.azadianlawgroup.com.

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