It may still be legal to force a woman to wear high heels in the workplace, as one woman has just found out. This isn’t right and the law needs to change.
Ms Thorp isn’t going quietly. She is calling for a change in the law and a petition to make it illegal has had over 85,000 signatures. The government must now respond.
The law is out-of-date and sexist. It says that a woman can be forced to wear heels if that is “reasonable”. When could it ever be reasonable to force a woman to make herself look ‘sexy’ in the workplace? An employer would have to argue that wearing heels was part of a formal dress code, and that it was asking men to dress in the same formal way.
A demand for high heels is still common practice with many employers, especially in retail and other private sector employers.
This is a breach of workers’ rights. It is illegal to discriminate against women in the workplace.
Asking a man to wear shiny shoes is not the same as asking a woman to wear shoes in order to make her look more attractive.
Is it fair to require a woman to wear high heels to work?
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that this practice is ‘outdated sexism’ and will look into supporting a legal challenge.
It could also be a breach of health and safety laws. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatry called on employers in 2009 to give employees a choice on what they wear, because of the long term foot problems wearing high heels can cause.
Would an employer require men to wear high heels?
This is another good reason why laws that protect workers’ rights, including their human rights, must be protected and promoted.
Read here for more on how the law protects workers’ rights. It protects all workers against discrimination – not just women.
So – let’s not live in a country that makes blatant sexism legal. Sign the petition now. At 100,000 signatures the petition must be considered for debate in Parliament, and that’s how a change in the law starts.
This article is the opinion of the author, not that of RightsInfo.
- Click here for our post on The Key Laws That Protect Workers’ Rights, which includes working conditions and health and safety at work.
- Read how Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights protects against discrimination.
- Our 7 Reasons We Still Need to Fight For Women’s Human Rights is available here – the high heels discrimination is clearly one of them.