While top global firms like J.P. Morgan, PwC have recently skirted away from formal dress codes, there are still bosses who are pretty uptight about what employees wear to work.
Last week a student wrote to advice blog, Ask a Manager, about how a group of interns, including himself, got fired from an internship.
The termination allegedly came after the group submitted a petition to protest the ‘very strict dress code’ at work and asked to be allowed to wear sneakers in the office.
According to the student, the group of interns were unhappy that the company held double standards on what to wear in the office.
While some employees were allowed to wear flat shoes and running shoes, interns have to follow a strict dress code.
After discussing with other interns, the group decided to submit a proposal asking for a more flexible dress code.
The move apparently ticked off the management of the company and the entire group of interns lost their jobs.
“We were told to hand in our ID badges and to gather our things and leave the property ASAP. We were shocked. The proposal was written professionally like examples I have learned about in school, and our arguments were thought out and well-reasoned,” the student wrote.
The student added that one of the managers allegedly told them that the worker who was allowed to disobey the dress code was a former soldier who lost her leg and was therefore given permission to wear whatever kind of shoes she could walk in.
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Alison Green, an employee from from Ask a Manager, stated the interns were way out of line.
“You were interns there — basically guests for the summer,’ she wrote. ‘Their rules are their rules. This is like being a house guest and presenting your host with a signed petition to change their rules about cleaning up after yourself. You just don’t have the standing to do that.”
She suggested the students could have instead asked managers to explain why the dress code was important.
While there are comments saying that this is a typical case of young people who think they are “the centre of the world” and the young students were taught a good lesson, Green said the situation was not about ‘young people today’ and that the letter-writer’s generation is far from the first to misunderstand office culture.
‘This is about being young and new to the work world, not about what generation they belong to. Most of us made plenty of mistakes when we first started work — I certainly did. So please go a little easier on this person,” she wrote.
Aily Foo, senior consultant, temporary and contract recruitment, Links International said both the interns and management has handled the situation poorly.
“The intern should have discussed this with their direct supervisor, rather than personally asking around for the other interns to support him/her. The way they went about it was aggressive and would seriously affect the morale in the office and could also damage the corporate image. What’s more, the intern put the other interns at risk and got them all fired too. That said, however, since interns are effectively babies in the workplace, I do think the company should have given them a written warning instead of immediately terminating their employment,” she said.