High Heels: treading the wrong side of the law

Thu 19th May 2016

Publication: The Times

Gill Garret, Partner & Head of Finance and Chris Cook, Partner & Head of Employment comment in The Times.

Last week Nicola Thorp, an actress doing temporary work as a receptionist at PwC, was told by the agency handling the reception services to go out and buy 2in to 4in heels, or go home without pay. Discrimination or justifiable insistence on a front-desk “uniform”?

Legal opinion this week was split: it is lawful, lawyers say, to have different dress rules for men and women and require staff to wear specific clothes, but not to be sexist…

Gill Garrett, partner and finance director at SA Law, says they have no “hard and fast rules” – it’s about common sense. “We usually have dress-down days once a month as well as fancy dress every now and then to raise money for charitable causes.”

Strict codes or not, the key seems to be equal treatment. That, says Chris Cook, SA Law’s head of Employment, can be difficult. “In the case of Smith v Safeway, the dismissal of a male employee for refusing to cut off his pony tail was held not to be discriminatory, despite the prohibition on hair length only applying to men.” Another case held…

To read the full article, click here to go to The Times website. Note there may be a paywall.