Q: I work in a small salon. My employer recently sent me a text reminding me to “make sure you come in with your hair done, makeup on, and a bra on.” I’ve worked there for a year now and this is the first time she has told me I need to wear a bra. I’ve never signed any sort of dress code, and I feel that this text was sent only to me because I’m the only one there who doesn’t wear a bra. I’m wondering if this is legal or if it could be discriminatory. I always make sure I’m covered; if I have a thin shirt on, I wear a bralette.

A: As I’ve said before when discussing this topic from the management perspective, employers are generally allowed to set standards for employee attire — even gender-based requirements such as makeup if they don’t impose an “unequal burden” on one gender and as long as those standards are consistently applied and enforced. Having employees sign a written policy confirming they understand those standards is good insurance but not strictly necessary.

Why not ask your boss for a frank explanation of why you going braless is a problem, and see if there are alternatives you would both be amenable to? If your boss can tell you’re the only one not wearing a bra, then it seems whatever you are wearing isn’t getting the job done.