A petition in Great Britain against high heels at work

Sent home for wearing flat shoes on her first day of work, an English receptionist launched a petition against the requirement to wear heels and has collected over 130,000 signatures.

This is the story of a temporary worker who arrived for her first day of work at PwC in flat shoes. The company soon reminded her that the dress code, which she had signed when accepting her contract as receptionist, requires female employees to wear 5 to 10 centimetre high heels. Nicola Thorp, a London 27-year-old, explained that working in heels all day would be complicated. It was suggested that she be given time to go and buy the appropriate shoes. At this point she invited her male colleagues to try greeting people in high heels. She was mocked and sent home.

This was a legally allowed reaction, since according to the laws in force in Great Britain a company is quite within its rights to let an employee go who refuses to comply with the dress code. The employer defended itself as well by emphasizing that the code in question was intended to present the customer with staff representing its brand and image in a positive manner.

Meanwhile, the young woman is now denouncing the discriminatory behaviour, pointing out that the dress code for men has no obligation that affects their comfort, their ability to move or even their health. Her main argument is that there’s no reason not to require different outfits for men and women…  as long as those requirements are not more favourable to one sex than to the other.

Nicola Thorp therefore decided to try to have the laws changed to prevent businesses from being able to impose wearing of high heels on their employees. To do this she launched a petition, which quickly passed the symbolic bar of 10,000 signatures and now has more than 130,000. English law stipulates that a petition that has gathered at least 100,000 signatures must be studied by Parliament.

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