Woman asked to resign for not sticking to dress code

An employee of a leading car dealership has registered a complaint at Powai police station against her employers stating that the management asked her to quit the job for not adhering to their dress code. According to Ghatkopar resident Mehak Pathan (28), she was asked to report to work wearing a skirt or trouser with a shirt instead of the salwar kameez that she preferred to wear. When she refused to toe the line, the management asked her to resign.

Mehak Pathan is employed at the car showroom as a telephone operator since May 21, 2010

After discussing the issue with her husband Salim Pathan, Mehak registered a non-cognisable complaint (copy available with MiD DAY) at Powai police station on March 29, and also drafted letters to several government ministers complaining against Kailash Joshi, finance head (Administration) and Sunil D’souza, vice president (HR-Manager) of Linkway Honda, a division of Auto Hangar India Pvt, which has its office at Saki-Vihar Road, Andheri (East).

Employed at the car showroom as a telephone operator since May 21, 2010, Mehak said that Joshi and Sunil had been tormenting her for the past 20 days telling her that her outfit was inappropriate, and that she should wear a skirt and top. The two alleged that it is a part of the dress code. Mehak asked them to provide in writing that the rule is part of the job, following which the duo refused to do so. As Mehak refused to adhere to their terms, they asked her to resign, she added.

“I am an Indian Muslim woman. I cannot wear a skirt-top or jeans-t-shirt to keep their customers happy, and hence I refused, following which they forced me to resign. I complained to the police and the ministers, requesting them to save my job,” Mehak said.

Mehak has complained in writing to the chief minister, labour minister, child and women welfare minster, and minorities development and wakf minister, asking them to initiate action against Joshi and D’souza. “My wife is undergoing mental trauma. She cannot wear a dress just to keep the customers happy. They failed to produce dress code norms or company’s policy to wear a skirt or pant,” said Salim, Mehak’s husband.

Showing their support for her cause, Maulana Mustaqeem Azmi, president of the Jamait-e-Ulema-e Maharashtra, said, “We appreciate Mehak’s stand. Wearing a skirt-top or jeans-t-shirt is not part of Hindustani culture, but that of western world culture. The company should be concerned with her work and not her dress. We will fight her legal battle in this case.”

The other side
“Everybody is equal in my company. They are bound by the company’s norms. We cannot compromise with company’s policy. We asked Mehak to wear uniform as per company rules,” said Kailash Joshi, Finance Head (Administration).

“Our company runs on certain norms. Uniform is company and employment policy. We suggested her to wear the uniform. We never forced or demanded her resignation. We are not aware about police complaint. She is not attending duty. We will call her and the issue will be resolved smoothly,” said Sunil D’souza, vice president (HR- Manager) of Linkway Honda.

“In order to create synergies across our ATL, BTL & retail initiatives, all Honda dealers have informed their staff to follow a dress code at their outlets nationally. However, if any employee cannot adhere to the same due to his/her religious sentiments, the company respects that and is open to work out an alternate solution,” said a spokesperson of Honda.

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