Dress codes are a notoriously sticky subject: What’s deemed appropriate and what’s not is purely subjective, and many debate the validity and fairness of certain dress codes, saying they’re often based on sexist assumptions about women’s bodies.
A former JCPenney employee just added fuel to the debate.
“Boss sent me home for wearing ‘too revealing’ shorts that I bought from the store I work at in the career section,” tweeted Sylva Stoel, 17, a self-proclaimed “intersectional feminist using the web to dish out body positivity, girl power, and everything queer,” last Friday.
Stoel told Mic she was never warned against wearing shorts to work and that her manager had only said during her job orientation that denim, t-shirts, spaghetti-strap tank tops, and “too short” skirts weren’t allowed.
A JCPenney spokesperson said via email the company does not comment on personnel matters, but that “JCPenney’s dress code policy for store associates prohibits the wearing of shorts of any length. This policy applies to both male and female associates.”
“I told [my manager] that I thought it was unfair to send me home due to the fact that I had purchased the shorts from JCPenney’s own career section, but he insisted that I go home and change anyways,” Stoel told The Huffington Post in an email.
At the time of this posting, JCPenney offered a number of items advertised as “career shorts.”
The JCPenney website even narrows its clothes into categories like “Wear To Work” and “Career Wear.”
JCPenney would not comment on why the retailer would advertise shorts as work-appropriate clothing but deem them inappropriate in its own workplace. As of press time the retailer also did not comment on whether it intends to update its dress code in the near future.
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