Restaurant workers may not be charged for buying or cleaning a uniform.

When a restaurant employee purchases a required uniform, he should be reimbursed by the restaurant for that cost in the next paycheck.  If the restaurant does not launder a required uniform, the employee must be paid cleaning expenses of $11.20 per week (if the employee works more than 30 hours per week), $8.85 per week (if the employee works more than 20 but less than 30 hours per week), or $5.35 per week (if the employee works 20 hours or less per week).  The employer is excused from this requirement, however, if the uniform can be washed and dried with other clothes, does not require ironing or other special treatment, and if the employee is provided with enough uniforms to wear in an average week of work.

Not all dress requirements are considered “uniforms” under the law.  According to the United States Department of Labor, if an employer merely prescribes a general type of ordinary basic street clothing to be worn while working and permits variations in details of dress, the garments chosen by the employees would not be considered to be uniforms.  For example, where an employer’s only instructions to employees regarding their attire are that they wear dark colored trousers or skirts and dark colored shoes, such items of clothing would not constitute a uniform.  On the other hand, where the employer does prescribe a specific type or style of clothing to be worn at work, e.g, where a restaurant requires a tuxedo or skirt and blouse or jacket of a specific or distinctive style, color, and quality, such clothing would be considered uniforms.  Of course, any article of clothing which is associable with a specific employer, by virtue of an emblem (logo), or distinctive color scheme, would be considered a uniform.

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