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Chambers & Partners

Indirect discrimination: Dress codes and appearance at work


Old Square Chambers, 10-11 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4BU

The recent high profile debate about the requirement to wear high heels at work and the forthcoming Parliamentary debate on the issue revealed that there are concerns that some workplace rules are discriminatory.

In this seminar, chaired by Jane McNeill QC, Deshpal Panesar, Cyril Adjei and James Chegwidden will examine these issues and explain what workplace dress codes and appearance rules are currently permissible and which are likely to be found to be indirectly discriminatory. It will look at what problems have been thrown up by particular requirements such as headscarves, tattoos, piercings, hairstyles and what is sometimes called “aesthetic labour” (being required to “look good and sound right”).

There will be a discussion of how the courts and tribunals have tried and are still trying to resolve these issues, particularly in the light of the eagerly awaited CJEU decisions of Achbita v G4S Secure Solutions NV and Bougnaoui v Micropole SA and the conflicting opinions of the Advocates General in each.

The two cases recently argued before the Supreme Court of Home Office (UK Border Agency) v Essop and Naeem v Secretary of State for Justice, may fundamentally alter what is indirect discrimination and so these cases will be also be examined.

This seminar will offer practical guidance to lawyers and HR professional advisors who may often be asked to provide advice in this difficult area.

We expect this seminar to be very popular, and as such are running two sessions; an evening seminar on 14th March 2017 and a breakfast seminar on 15th March 2017, both at our London Chambers at 10-11 Bedford Row, London, WC1R 4BU. The timings for each event are noted below.

If you would like to request a place, please email us at, specifying your preference as to which date you wish to attend. We will confirm your place in due course.

14th March 2017 – registration from 5.15pm, talks will begin at 5.45pm. This event will conclude at 7.15pm.

15th March 2017 – registration from 8.00am, talks will begin at 8.30am. This event will conclude at approximately 9.30am.

Note – the content of both seminars will be the same, with the morning session being slightly more condensed so as to keep to time.



Jane McNeill KC (Investigator/Mediator)

Jane McNeill KC (Investigator/Mediator)
Shortlist Updated

Out of hours

William Meade (Senior Clerk)

07970 649 755