I did not want to discuss this topic on the question because there's already enough discussion there :)

How do I provide proof or sources if my claim is "[this behavior] is perfectly legal"?

If I claim something is illegal, that's easy. There should be a law making it illegal. Without such a law, it would not be illegal.

If it's in any way controversial, I can probably find a court decision where someone was cleared while exhibiting this behavior.

But if it's not controversial? How would I provide sources for a statement like "wearing pants to work is perfectly legal"?

  • Basically, you are trying to prove a negative: "This behavior is not illegal". I wouldn't bother trying here. If this were instead a legal forum, I'd ask "Please provide the law that makes this behavior illegal". – Joe Strazzere May 31 '20 at 14:46

How would I provide sources for a statement like "wearing pants to work is perfectly legal"?

You should not engage in these discussions on Workplace@SE. It is off-topic, requires much more details than regular OP is willing to contribute, and promotes comment skirmishes.

We can, however, engage in discussion such as:

  • Is not wearing pants professional in [circumstances]?
  • How to navigate unreasonable requirement to (not) wear pants to work from my supervisor?
  • We have casual friday with no pants requirement, my colleague takes it too far (no underwear either), what is the professional way to deal with that?
  • My subordinate is not wearing pants to work for reasons (...), and now also declines to perform duties that require pants (wood cutting) because they are not wearing pants, how to deal with that?

ask your lawyer, but professional way to deal with that is ...


For the others, this is about this answer. @OP: I assume you've seen the top-voted answer there. It points to a specific legal document confirming this request is legal. As my comments mentioned you can just link that. Any reason that wouldn't work?

How would I provide sources for a statement like "wearing pants to work is perfectly legal"?

You would simply say "wearing pants to work is not illegal". You could back that up by pointing to your familiarity with working in the jurisdiction the question is about. You could also back it up by pointing to relevant documents proving that not wearing pants actually would be illegal. Either experience or references would work for most situations. I believe in a courtroom that's often referred to as "evidence or authority".

The problem is that when you specifically state "I am not familiar with the laws in [country]", you cannot then go on to say "X is legal there" just because you think it should be. By your own admission you have no way of knowing. This is why the back it up rule exists. There have been a number of answers on this site downvoted because they pointed out that the law actually allows or prohibits certain behaviour that people felt shouldn't be.

If you are unable to corroborate a legal claim, it's typically a sign you shouldn't be making it.

  • Why do you think there is a difference between "it's legal" and "it's not illegal"? Law tends to be boolean. There is no gray zone in a court. They do not decide something to be "mostly legal, to about 65% give or take". It either is or it's not, which means "it's legal" is exactly the same as "it's not illegal". – nvoigt May 31 '20 at 19:48
  • So I have removed the part where I don't know exactly whether someone should pay for their own PPE in the UK, apparently that makes my claim that something unrelated is legal somehow... wrong? I don't know. I have a hard time following how something trivially obvious like "your employer can require you to wear specific clothing" needs sourcing. I mean we all have been at McD or rode a subway train, it's not like I'm unearthing arcane mysteries with this. – nvoigt May 31 '20 at 19:55
  • And why am I not using the link: because the link is health specific. My answer says that even without COVID the employer could require this. It would be pretty pointless to cite a document saying they can do it for health reasons when the whole point of my answer is that it's legal even without the health/virus aspect of it. – nvoigt May 31 '20 at 19:57
  • @nvoigt "Why do you think there is a difference..." There isn't. All I'm saying is that to "prove" a claim you can provide either evidence in favour of the claim or disprove the opposite claim. This is about the general question, not your specific answer. The reason for all this nitpicking is that legal claims carry weight. We can indeed say "it's trivially obvious that employers can enforce a dress code". But the law being the law, there are a lot of rules around that topic which include aspects of personal and religious liberty, discrimination protection, etc. – Lilienthal Jun 2 '20 at 11:58
  • 1
    A simple "this is normal" and "doing X is the standard approach" when speaking from experience are fine.A claim "X is legal in your specific scenario" requires a higher burden of proof. Your answer was clearly of the first variety, the issue I saw in it was that there were hints of the latter which might be problematic. – Lilienthal Jun 2 '20 at 11:59
  • @nvoigt, law is not "boolean" nor are courts devoid of "gray zones". People who end up in a legal dispute find that they're in a field of gray as soon as they contact a lawyer. Nothing is a given, everything is negotiable, and more so if one is shelling out big money for pay-for or defend-against aggressive lawyers. – teego1967 Aug 15 '20 at 19:27

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