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Employee sent home from work for not wearing high heels

Employee sent home from work for not wearing high heels

HR Consultant, Julie Davis, explains the employment law behind the story of Nicola Thorp who was sent home for refusing to wear high heels. 

Employee sent home from work for not wearing high heels

The press has recently covered the story of Nicola Thorp, a temporary receptionist provided by an employment agency to PricewaterhouseCoopers, who has claimed that she was sent home from work because she was not wearing high heels. She was informed that flat shoes were not part of the dress code for women. PwC have distanced themselves from the policy, claiming that it was not endorsed by them. They are now taking steps to ensure that the employment agency’s values are more aligned with their own. Nicola has since set up a petition calling for it to be made illegal for companies to insist that female employees wear heels. 

Advice

Companies have a large measure of discretion in controlling their company's image, including the appearance of staff, especially those who have contact with customers. However any dress code which can be said to subject women to a detriment will be discriminatory unless it can be objectively justified.  The press is now covering this question, with the College of Podiatry quoted by BBC News as warning employers not to make women wear high heels at work because they can cause bunions, back problems, ankle sprains and tight calves. 

About the author

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Julie Davis

Julie is an experienced HR Consultant.

Published: Monday 16th May 2016
Categorised: Employment, HR

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