‘It’s a slap in the face’: UW Health employee questions fairness of dress code policy

Woman points out dress code exceptions for sports, not BLM shirts

MADISON, Wis. – A UW Health employee is questioning a dress code policy, saying its implementation should be reexamined.

She said that despite a dress code at the Health Center she works at not allowing logos or text, workers can sometimes wear sports attire, while she and her coworkers had to change out of shirts they made in support of Black Lives Matter.

The woman, who News 3 Now is agreeing to keep anonymous because of her concerns of repercussions at work, hopes sharing her story will bring about change.

As staff members are allowed, even encouraged, to wear Brewers and Cubs gear this opening day, she wants to know why her coworkers weren’t able to stand in solidarity with her.

“It’s a contradiction thing,” she said. “It’s infuriating. It’s a slap in the face.”

As the only Black woman in her specific department, seeing her coworkers wear the shirts brightened her day last month.

“(They were) nothing derogatory, nothing explicit, very clean, open, happy shirts,” she said. “It was a really good feeling. Maybe not even an hour later, that happy-spirited atmosphere went real dim very quickly.”

She said management explained to her that the dress code doesn’t allow logos or wording and told her to turn the shirt inside out, take it off or cover it up.

“I am livid,” the employee said. “It’s a baseball game, and why is that so important that people can support these teams, but you can’t support people that you see every day here?”

She said she understands the dress code but that it’s not fair that sports gear can be allowed for certain days when the shirts she and her coworkers wore weren’t considered as a possible exception.

“It would have been easier to say, since 95% of the staff have shirts on, for future reference, don’t do it anymore. You could have turned the other cheek,” the woman said. “It would have made me feel like somebody actually does care and you really do care about not only me as a person, but my well-being as a black person.”

In a statement, UW Health wrote, “It is not UW Health policy to discourage any employees from showing their support for Black Lives Matter or other anti-racism efforts. UW Health is committed to dismantling racism in ourselves, in our system and in our community and is actively working with our employees and in the community on anti-racism actions and initiatives. “

UW Health said that they are discussing this specific concern with management.