The Richmond Register

February 23, 2013

The case of the hemmed in teacher

You be the judge

By Jack Strauss
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Edna was a high school teacher whose long suit was her short skirt. And, it didn’t take long before it gained her the attention of the High School Board. Considering the length of her skirt to be too immodest, the members of the school board ordered Edna to wear skirts that were much more protracted. When the well-endowed teacher refused to do so, the ax fell and Edna was fired.

Viewing her discharge as being unfair, Edna sought reinstatement in court.

“Just because I was a teacher,” she complained to a judge, “it doesn’t mean that I have to dress like an old fuddy-duddy. Under the Constitution, I have the right to dress like any other modern female.”

“Not in our school!” responded the members of the School Board. “We have a contractual right to prescribe how our employees may dress. And, one of our main concerns is the length of a teacher’s skirt. While skirts were once considered a common noun ... they’ve now become an abbreviation.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you approve of Edna being sacked for refusing to wear a longer skirt on the job?

THIS IS WHAT THE JUDGE RULED: Yes! The judge held that how a person dressed on the job is a legitimate demand of a public or private employer. Since the objection to the length of Edna’s skirt could not be said to be motivated by an irrational school concern, noted the judge, she could not claim a violation of her Constitutional rights. Furthermore, he added, when it comes to an employer-employee relationship, the Constitutional area is, and should be, small.

(Based upon a 1976 United States Court of Appeals Decision)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.