British Columbia

Bartender complains of dress code sexism

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint from a bartender who says she was required to dress in a way that elicited propositions from customers.

Human rights complaint cites compulsory miniskirts, cleavage

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will hear a complaint from a bartender who says she was required to dress in a way that elicited propositions from customers.

Karolina Bil said the dress code at the Shark Club restaurant in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond included high-heeled shoes, miniskirts and shirts showing cleavage.

In the complaint, Bil alleged she was discriminated against on the basis of her sex.

She said she was not only forced to dress a certain way, but was also ordered to have her hair and makeup done with "class and sex appeal." Bil said when she wore her hair up on one occasion, she was asked by a manager to take it down.

Bil alleged she was inappropriately propositioned by restaurant patrons because of what she was required to wear.

The Shark Club and parent company Northland Properties Corp. filed an application asking the tribunal to dismiss Bil's complaint and denied it discriminated.

The restaurant said it has policies in place that allow employees to raise any concerns they may have about the workplace. It said Bil never complained that she was experiencing discrimination or harassment.

Female servers only

Tribunal member Heather MacNaughton dismissed the restaurant's application and said if Bil's allegations are proven at a hearing, they could amount to a breach of the Human Rights Code.

"Ms. Bil's allegations about different treatment and expectations of male and female employees, including sexually based dress code requirements, if proven, could amount to sex discrimination," MacNaughton said in her ruling.

Bil said the Shark Club only hired female servers and all of its supervisors were blondes.

In issuing her judgment on the restaurant's application, MacNaughton did not set a date for the case to be heard.