In April, Chapter 293 filed a national grievance challenging the new attire policy imposed by Lori Richards, the Director of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”).
OCIE’s new policy provides that employees are required to wear formal business attire whenever they are meeting with outside parties on examinations, even in cases where a registrant has a business casual attire policy. The only exception provided in this policy is in situations where there is little or no chance of interacting with anyone outside the SEC, such as when “reviewing materials in a warehouse.”
This new policy is directly contradicted by the rule set forth in Article 26 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which clearly provides that SEC employees are not required to wear business attire where a different attire standard has been established by those outside the Agency with whom they will be interacting. Many registrants have adopted business casual attire policies. It is entirely appropriate for SEC employees to choose to dress to this standard when visiting such entities.
Union officials made every effort to attempt to resolve this issue with OCIE senior management before filing the national grievance, but they were unable to reach an agreement. “I am very disappointed that OCIE management is violating this provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” said NTEU attorney Ralph Talarico, who will handle the arbitration on the grievance. “The business world has for many years been moving towards less rigid attire standards, and it doesn’t make sense for OCIE to refuse to acknowledge that reality.”
Indeed, business casual attire is now widely accepted as a neat, crisp look that is entirely appropriate in many contemporary business settings. Although it is a more relaxed and comfortable way to dress, it is still professional, neat and pulled together. It does not detract from the professionalism of the many individuals who dress in this fashion every day.
Chapter 293 will keep you posted regarding this matter as it progresses.