If you’ve worked in retail, you are probably familiar with the standard clothing store protocol. Employees are pressed to wear as much of the store’s clothing as possible, for obvious marketing purposes. Midrange department store J.C. Penney is on board, unless your store-bought attire conflicts with its dress code.
Seventeen-year-old Sylva Stoel took to Twitter last Friday to call out the department store after she was sent home for wearing a pair of red linen shorts that were “too revealing.” The clincher? Stoel purchased said shorts from J.C. Penney — in the career section, no less.
However, just because there are shorts in the career section doesn’t mean you get to override your company’s dress code policy. According to an email exchange between Business Insider and a J.C. Penney spokesperson, “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.” And to be fair, I can understand why the company’s dress code may prohibit shorts in general.
I have had my fair share of retail employment, and when you are working on the floor, you tend to bend over to pick things up, fold clothes on the display table, etc. The last thing you want to be wearing is a pair of shorts or a riding-up skirt that could potentially reveal your cheeks in the process.
Regardless, what we have here is a situation of both blatant irony and some false advertising. If J.C. Penney chose to sell these shorts, deeming them appropriate enough to be classified career appropriate, why send home employees who chose to wear them?
“I bought these shorts thinking they were professional,” Stoel told Today. “They didn’t show anything other than my legs, which I don’t think is too provocative.”
The fact that J.C. Penney sells the shorts in its career section sends a mixed message to employees, but Stoel was not sent home because she was dressed provocatively. She was sent home because she broke the dress code.