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Woman sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels

6th June 2016

Employee sent home for wearing high heels

Questions have risen about the legality of forcing women to wear high heels as part of their attire for work after a woman was sent home from her job in London because she refused to wear high heels.

In an article on the BBC News website, Nicola Thorp, a 27-year-old woman who was working for a City firm in London, explained how she was laughed at when she told her bosses that she didn’t want to wear high heels.

The corporate receptionist said she was told to either go home without pay or go out and buy heels that were between two to four inches high. After refusing, her employers sent her home without pay.

She added, “I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said I just won't be able to do that in heels.”

Petition set up

As many people working in legal positions will be aware, some companies recruiting for in house legal jobs will have a certain dress code, but some go one step further and ask workers to wear specific types of clothing and shoes.

Following Nicola Thorp’s experience she set up a petition to the Government to give women the option to wear flat shoes at work.

Since being created the petition has amassed a staggering 7,000 signatures and the lobby states the current laws are “outdated and sexist”.

Current laws mean businesses are able to set different dress codes for men and women at work so long as they are “reasonable” and firms are able to fire staff who fail to follow these dress code demands, as long as they have been given an appropriate amount of time to purchase the correct clothes and shoes.

In the case of women being made to wear high heels, there could be a case for women to sue their employers.

Lawrence Davis, who is director at Equal Justice Limited solicitors, said, “If they set the code because they thought high heels made women look sexy, that is a case.”