There has been much discussion following Nicola Thorp’s debate with Piers Morgan during Good Morning Brittan, regarding her recent dismissal from a London Accountancy firm, for failure to comply to their somewhat extensive dress code.
Sent home for not wearing heels in the workplace
Nicola was sent home without pay as a result of not wearing heels in the workplace. The company’s dress code required receptionists to be wearing a heel between 4 to 6 inches.
Heels in the workplace campaign
Nicola is now campaigning for greater restrictions on organisations, preventing the implication of such strict guidelines. Much of this debate has been focused towards the entitlement of the employee however as an employer you will be finding yourself asking the question how do our guidelines stand in relation to this debate? Do you ask female employees to wear heels whilst at work?
Current guidelines on dress code
As it stands the only guideline currently in place for organisations is that a company’s dress code cannot be seen to discriminate against any of the protected characteristics as noted under s.4 of the Equality Act 2010. Such characteristic’s include; race, gender, age and sexuality. There is no mention of dress code and certainly not anything about heels in the workplace. However, this list is non exhaustive and it is recommended if you do have any concerns in regards to a particular individual or workforce this act is studied carefully.
Discrimination in the workplace
It should be noted that there are two forms of discrimination that you should be aware of for the purposes of this Act; Direct and Indirect. Direct discrimination occurs when one single individual is discriminated against and indirect occurs when a group of people (for example a certain religious group) is discriminated against.
Could Nicola’s heels in the workplace case be classed as one of these forms discrimination? Yes, in Nicola’s case, as this dress code was applied to all women within her role in the company this could be viewed as indirect discrimination.
If you have any concerns in relation to pre-existing dress codes or the implication of dress codes our experts are on hand to offer advice on this subject. We are contactable on: 01509861262.