Opinion from Theresa Carling, Associate Employment Law Team:-
"Unless you’ve been hiding for the last two days, it’s unlikely that you haven’t heard about the recent complaints made by Nicola Thorp that she was sent home without pay for not attending her temping job wearing high heels. Whilst the rights and wrongs of such a request and dress code enforcement haven’t been legally tested for some time, this was a hot bed of employment case law activity not so long ago when women wanted to wear trousers like their male colleagues, but were told to wear skirts. (That, by the way, was upheld as a reasonable dress code).
Personally, I don’t believe it should make the slightest difference what someone is wearing on their feet. I do know that wearing high heels for some women can be agony though and that employers should bear in mind the comfort of their staff while they are working. For one thing, sore feet can be very distracting!
I would love to see this case tested in the tribunals, if nothing else, to clarify whether there is sex discrimination by the requirement to wear high heels. It is certainly arguable at this stage. What are your thoughts?
"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'," she said. When she asked if a man would be expected to do the same shift in heels, she said she was laughed at and told to go home without pay. "I said 'if you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough', but they couldn't," she told BBC Radio London. Despite fearing what she said could be a "negative backlash", she set up a petition calling for the law to be changed so women cannot be forced to wear high heels to work.