In March of this year, 14 employees of a Deerfield Beach, Florida law firm were fired for wearing matching orange shirts. Their explanation? They said they dressed alike to identify themselves as a group when they later went out for happy hour to celebrate pay-day.
But while apparently there’s no dress code policy against matching orange apparel at the law offices of Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A., the firm nevertheless put the hammer down on the dressed-alike employees. According to news accounts, it was initially believed by a firm executive that the workers wore matching orange in a protest against management. But since firing them, the firm has said “no comment.” And in April, eight of the fired orange workers filed a federal complaint contesting their termination.
Now as far as I know Florida is an employment-at-will state, which basically means that in Florida, an employer does not need good cause to fire an employee. Having not read the federal complaint, I don’t know what novel civil rights theory or at-will exception is being argued by the orange shirt wearing workers. But all I can say is good luck with making those arguments!
Recipe for happy marriage? Dressing alike on purpose.
For those not required to wear uniforms, dressing alike on the job can sometimes lead to unemployment — at least it did for those 14 law firm employees. However, a report this morning reveals that dressing alike can also promote happy long-term relationships — just not in a workplace setting. Happily for Mel and Joey Schwanke, the Fremont, Nebraska elderly couple, they credit their 146 custom-made matching outfits as the secret for their successful 65-year marriage.
Mel and Joey have been dressing alike for three decades. And Mel always defers to his wife’s sartorial selections, which gravitate toward bright colors and flowery designs. They also have plenty of closet space, which no doubt has also helped promote their long-term marital bliss.
But while some long marriages are more a testament to endurance than experience, I doubt that’s the case with the Schwankes. Interestingly, neither remembers when they first started matching their ensembles. But what they will say is that it wasn’t during the first half of their 65-year marriage. That’s hardly surprising since I find that dressing alike — at least, early on in a relationship, can often lead to disharmony not harmony. One spouse, usually the husband, is unhappily sent back inside to shed the offending matching garment.
But if you stay married long enough — like ear hair — dressing alike eventually grows on you. And unlike all those married couples who claim matching outfits are unintentional, accidental or coincidental, Mel and Joey Schwanke make no bones about their intentions. Mel says, “We don’t dare go somewhere without having matching outfits.”
Credits: “Shinji e Joaquim 06 Jan-07″ by Lori M. via Creative Commons-licensed content for noncommercial use requiring attribution and share alike distribution at Flickr; “Thom & Stacy unintentionally matching outfit,” by inju, Kevin Lim via Creative Commons-licensed content for noncommercial use requiring attribution and share alike distribution at Flickr; “IMG_4485,” by wiseleo, Leonid Knyshov, via Creative Commons-licensed content for noncommercial use requiring attribution and share alike distribution at Flickr.