Male Judge Sets Dress Code For Female Lawyers And Sparks Uproar

female lawyers dress codeEmployees are dressing more casually for work these days, and it can be uncomfortable for supervisors to publicly criticize it -- particularly when those workers are women, and the supervisor is a man. That's been the case for one Tennessee judge, who sparked a controversy by writing a memo urging female attorneys to keep their clothing court-appropriate.

Dress standards have been slipping in the courtrooms of Murfreesboro, Tenn. for quite some time, according to locals. One legal assistant (who asked to remain anonymous) said he's seen a woman in flip flops. A couple attorneys mentioned the same rumor about a woman in sweatpants, although no one had seen it with their own eyes. The subject finally erupted at a recent Bench/Bar Committee meeting, prompting Circuit Judge Royce Taylor to pen a notice about it. He wrote:
The unanimous opinion was that the women attorneys were not being held to the same standard as the men. It was requested that the judges require all attorneys to dress professionally.
I have advised some women attorneys that a jacket with sleeves below the elbow is appropriate or a professional dress equivalent.

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The Rutherford County Bar newsletter hasn't yet published the memo, but that didn't stop Taylor's words from creating a buzz in town, even sparking false rumors that the judge was going to start making women wear pantyhose.

Nashville-based attorney Karla Miller, who does some work in Rutherford, told USA Today that she was "slightly offended," by the judge's action, but admitted that "some ladies are dressing in a manner that should be bothersome to other lady lawyers who strive to be professional."

While the issue has been brewing for years, Taylor, who's been a judge since 1998, told AOL Jobs that he'd been reluctant to approach it. "Being an older white male judge I realized I'm at a disadvantage to try to talk about this subject. I'm certainly not a fashion guru," he explained.

Taylor wasn't surprised by the reaction, at all. "I think our role as judges is to promote professionalism, which is why we haven't addressed the issue -- because we were concerned how we were going to be perceived, as older male white judges who were out of touch."

"I think this has been an ongoing problem for a considerable period of time," says David Scott, the president of the local bar association, and it became a heated topic of discussion at the most recent Bench and Bar Committee meeting.

Many in the local legal community agree with Taylor's points, including Scott, the president of the local bar association. "There are no casual days in court," he explains. "Our clients pay us money that does not come easy to them, and I think we owe them to look our best when we're up there representing them."

More: How To Get Your Company To Relax The Dress Code

"It took a long time for courts to even allow women in the courts with pantsuits on," says the anonymous legal assistant, who's been working in the local legal profession for 40 years. "Miniskirts are not appropriate. Spaghetti straps are not appropriate."

But Taylor never anticipated that he'd make the national news. "I'm glad it's sparking conversation. It probably was needed," he says. And he insists that he's not picking on women, and never suggested a pantyhose rule.

"I don't think I could defend that in any way," says Scott, about the pantyhose rumor. "Even as an attorney, I don't think I could even find the gray area for that one."

Check out the slideshow, "What Not To Wear To The Office This Summer."

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About time someone has said it. I think that if anyone shows up in court inappropriately attired they should be cited. Even 50Cent wears a suit when he goes to handle business. It shows respect, not just for yourself, but the authority of the court as well as shows that you are ready to get down to business.

Some people dress better for the CLUB than they do for the court or church, and that is pretty pathetic.

June 20 2013 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Weaver

Why does it matter how lawyers dress for court? I thought justice was blind.

June 20 2013 at 6:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dress code for women, what about the dress dode for men? I see lawyers and judges, before and after court...sloppy Joes, and they have a right to talk....NOT!

June 20 2013 at 3:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to notruthingov's comment

sorry code, this makes me so mad...tks...

June 20 2013 at 3:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Judges don't need to dress up for court. The fact that yous see them before and after court means NOTHING since they all wear the same black robe IN court.

June 20 2013 at 4:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

He just does not want lawyers dressed as ***** in his cortroom

June 20 2013 at 12:31 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Rae Turner

I for one am ashamed of women who do not honor their profession enough to dress correctly for work.

June 19 2013 at 11:14 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I think he's correct. I can't believe the way women dress today for almost all occasions. I'm sick to death of seeing armpits and fabby upper thighs, floppy cleavages and bra straps showing. When I came to the USA over twenty years ago i was horrified by what I saw in the streets and in the stores. Not only ugly clothes, with hideous shoulderpads and skimpy skirts, gaping necklines and horrible prints but also far too much skin. Why any women with less than a perfect body would choose to parade it around it beyond me.

And in the Court, a dress code should definitely be required. If more women bought more attractive clothes, maybe the manufacturers would make some. Last week I tried to find a plain black top with sleeves ... i don't want my armpits showing ... and could find almost nothing with sleeves. The manufacturers obviously are milking a fact any seamstress knows ... that two full length sleeves require more fabric than the rest of a blouse. So any excuse not to make those sleeves is snatched up.

June 19 2013 at 8:45 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to nikkitytom's comment

Just because you're fat and saggy don't take it out on those of us that aren't. I am 55 and 5'4" and 108 pounds. I wear shorts and tanks all the time with flip flops too. Why? Because I can and I want to. Doesn't matter what you think. Just because a woman is over 40 or whatever we aren't supposed to dress a certain way? Why? Because YOU said so? LOL What a joke

June 20 2013 at 4:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

does his special other buy clothes from omar the tent maker

June 19 2013 at 7:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

is the judge gay

June 19 2013 at 7:22 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

I guess if your dressed better that would make them better lawyers (NOT) who cares as long as the lawyer
knows what he or she is doing and works hard to either prosecute or defend their clients.

June 19 2013 at 6:58 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

I would not like my attorney showing up to court in a sundress and flip-flops- the judge is very right

June 19 2013 at 6:42 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

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