SF Court Enforces Staff Dress Code; Protests, Labor Dispute Follow

By William Peacock, Esq. on February 24, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Union disputes. Protests with picket signs. A labor complaint filed with the state. This has to be something big, some terrible labor law violation, right?

Nope. The San Francisco Superior Court simply decided to enforce its long-standing, laxly enforced 1996 dress code. No flip flops, no beach attire, and no gym clothes. Guys in ties, gals in something business-y.

It Started With a Memo ...

According to Robyn Hagan Cain at Racked SF, back in December, court employees received a memo reminding them of the 1996 dress code. Unfortunately, when some staff members failed to step up their fashion game and embrace business attire, disciplinary action was taken. Some were forced to change while others were sent home without pay.

The aggrieved staff members complain that the policy is vague and arbitrarily enforced.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the code explicitly bans tank tops, cutoff shorts, beachwear, warm-up, and "thong-style" sandals. It also states that employees "must maintain a professional, business-like appearance appropriate for an institution that serves the public in the vital function of delivering justice."

Which Led to an Unfair Labor Practice Complaint ...

"We had people wearing the same outfits they were wearing last year that were fine -- only now, they're being written up," Peter Masiak of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 told the Chronicle.

Hm, that seems to be the point -- cleaning up the staff's wardrobe.

"There is nothing wrong with asking people to dress appropriately for work," he continued. "The problem is management, with little notice, has changed the policy." December, January, maybe part of February? And should it even need to be stated that one shouldn't wear sweats to the courthouse, especially if you are staff?

According to ABC-7, SEIU filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the state. They didn't stop at paperwork, however.

And a Picket Line.

On Thursday, SEIU members, court staff, and supporters picketed outside the courthouse. Ironically, from the Chronicle's photos, most of them appear to be dressed in court-appropriate attire.

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