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Tie rule 'is sex discrimination'

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LONDON, England -- A UK Government employee is taking his bosses to an employment tribunal claiming that being told to wear a tie to work amounts to sexual discrimination.

Benefits fraud investigator Ian Jarman is to challenge his employers over a dress code which demands male members of staff at a job centre in Birmingham, wear a tie.

The 46-year-old said he had worked for 26 years without wearing a tie and felt "insulted" by the new rules over workplace attire.

Jarman said he had agreed to wear a tie to avoid any disciplinary action but had lodged papers with the employment tribunal over the issue.

He told the UK Press Association: "It is ridiculous. I have done this job for 26 years without wearing a tie and it has never affected my ability to do the job.

"It is sexual discrimination. The dress code says that female members of staff can wear an open necked blouse. Why should male members of staff have to wear a tie?

"I am wearing a tie for the time being as I don't want to get into a disciplinary procedure, but I find it uncomfortable and I prefer just to wear a shirt and trousers.

"This has nothing to do with professionalism because what you wear has nothing to do with your ability to do the job."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the dress code was introduced earlier this year at all 56 of the new Job Centre Plus offices.

The dress code was designed to help "project" a professional image at the Job Centre Plus branches, said the spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman added: "The importance of the dress code is key in how customers will view the kind of service we provide."

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