Employee sent home for refusing to wear heels – but should she have been asked in the first place?
A young female employee was working via an agency Portico as a receptionist for a large firm of accountants, PwC, in London when she was asked by a supervisor to go and buy some 2 – 4 inch heels as her flat shoes were not appropriate work attire.
Why did this happen?
When the employee expressed her confusion as to why she was being asked to do this, she was told that flat shoes were not part of the agency’s dress code for women. She was sent home without pay. When she pointed out that her male colleagues were allowed to wear flat shoes, she says she was laughed at.
What happened next?
The employee set up a petition to try and make it illegal for companies to enforce heel wearing for female employees. Her petition is gaining momentum and if it passes 100,000 signatures, the issue is likely to be debated in the Houses of Parliament.
How does this affect you?
This event has gained national attention and various questions are being raised – is this right, is it discriminatory, was it just part of a dress code, if she was sitting behind a desk did it really matter what was on her feet, what if she needed to wear flat shoes for a medical condition?
These are all interesting questions and illustrate the friction that can occur when a business wants to portray a certain image with perhaps not thinking through its requirements in detail.
What we can do for you?
Dress codes are important and have their place in most businesses. However what is important it to ensure that any requirements are fair and do not discriminate against certain groups. We can help review dress code policies and advise whether there are any areas which could cause problems and perhaps negative publicity.