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Opinion
Noah Feldman

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Civil Rights?

If you own a business, can you set a dress code for anyone who comes in? In New York, this seemingly simple question has become an issue for the courts.

If you own a business, can you set a dress code for anyone who comes in? In New York, this seemingly simple question has become an issue for the courts.

Several businesses owned by Hasidim of the Satmar sect in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, posted signs saying "No shorts, no barefoot, no sleeveless, no low-cut neckline allowed in this store." The New York City Human Rights Commission charged the stores with discriminating against women and non-Satmar or least non-ultraorthodox customers. In a trial scheduled to start today, an administrative law judge was supposed to decide whose ox is being gored: is it the tank-topped, short-shorted customer or the proprietor whose fundamental rights are being violated?