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Last June, a man in Aruba was fired because he refused to tuck his shirt in his pants. As crazy as it sounds, the judge agreed with the employer. How is this possible? How would a Dutch judge rule? I dived in.
Man fired after refusing to tuck shirt in pants
The Aruban man was working for this company since 2018. They are in the business of settling claims for insurance companies. As a field service agent, importance was placed on having a professional appearance. Company rules stated that he was required to wear his shirt tucked into his pants. Since the employee did not comply with the rule twice in one month, he was fired on the spot. The judge initially disagreed with the dismissal as he felt the argument was weak, especially as the employer felt that the man should stick to this dress code after working hours.
In the end, the judge agreed with the company. The employee did not adhere to the dress code that the company deemed necessary for the job. According to the judge, this meant that there was no longer any possibility of a good working relationship. The employer had to pay the man a severance payment of 2500 Aruban florins. This equates to 1200 euros, which was about one and a half times the man’s monthly salary.
In the Netherlands?
After reading this remarkable news item, I was curious about Dutch law. Is an employer in The Netherlands allowed to demand this? Lawyer Kim Hendriks explains how this works.
“In general, employers in the Netherlands may impose rules on the wearing of mandatory company clothing or compliance with dress codes. According to the law, every employer has a right to give instruction, which means that he“must promote good order in the company”. Seen from this light, the employer also has to take into account the reasonableness and fairness of imposing and enforcing the regulations. Moreover, the employer must be careful in the consideration and possible objections of his employees. ”
Hendriks thinks the dismissal is a far-reaching measure but understands the judge’s consideration.
“In view of the news item in Aruba, I expect that a Dutch judge will also conclude that firing this employee is going much too far. After a number of warnings, a rebuke would have been more appropriate here. Because in this case there is a difference of opinion between employer and employee, there is a so-called disturbed employment relationship. Here in The Netherlands, this may also be a reason for a judge to rule that despite the fact that there is no serious and culpable misconduct, dismissal is justified. ”
So it is possible! It’s quite interesting if you look at it from a legal perspective. You cannot fire someone just because they do not tuck their shirt in. But if that leads to a disrupted working relationship, then it is allowed. Strange, but also logical. And so we learn a little bit every day.