Sent home for not wearing high heels
Temporary Receptionist, Nicola Thorp, from Hackney, was sent home by PWC, the accounting and audit firm, for not wearing shoes with a “2-4in heel”.
Ms Thorp said she would have really struggled to walk around all day in heels and asked to wear flat shoes that she had been able to wear at another office in central London, “I said ‘if you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough’, but they couldn’t,” Ms Thorp told BBC London.
She felt it was entirely unreasonable to be expected to do a full 9 hour shift in high heels and when she asked if her male colleagues were expected to wear similar footwear, she was apparently laughed at.
Ms Thorp, although initially frightened by a backlash, decided to take to Facebook and has so far gathered a petition of around 10,000 signatures to try to force a change to the law where women are not required to wear heels.
Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself the questions, “how is this legal?”
As the legislation currently states, an employer can dismiss an employee for ‘failing to live up to our dress code standards” provided that enough notice has been given for the employee to get the right clothes and shoes to meet the dress code. It is still possible for a company to set up different dress codes for men and women as long as there is an “equivalent level of smartness”.
“I don’t hold anything against the company necessarily because they are acting within their rights as employers to have a formal dress code, and as it stands, part of that for a woman is to wear high heels,” Ms Thorp said.
“Aside from the debilitating factor, it’s the sexism issue. I think companies shouldn’t be forcing that on their female employees.”
Ms Thorp was provided to PWC by receptionist outsourcing firm, Portico, have said they set the rules for the staff provided to PWC and would now look into the dress code.
A spokesman for PWC said that they were only made aware of this in May (10 months after the issue) and the dress code mentioned is not a PWC policy.