Edmonton

Female servers at Earls can now wear pants as part of new dress code

Who should be wearing the pants at Earls? Everyone says restaurant chain.

Change came after months of consultation, says Earls rep

Never one to skirt the issue, Edmonton AM asks listeners for their take on the new Earls dress code for female servers that allows them to wear pants. (Neil Herland/CBC)

Earls' waitresses will now be able to put on pants for work, one leg at a time, just like everyone else.

The restaurant chain that first opened in Edmonton 34 years ago has now moved to include pants as part of the suggested dress code for female servers. The announcement follows a CBC Marketplace investigation on how some dress codes may violate human rights.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission released a statement on International Women's Day March 8 calling for an end to gender-specific dress codes, stating that those policies discriminate against female and transgendered employees.

In an interview on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM, Cate Simpson, a spokesperson for Earls, said the change was made after months of consultation.

"We didn't feel any pressure from that CBC Marketplace piece at all."

But she added, "We definitely reacted to the Ontario Human Rights Commission; we were unaware that was considered discriminatory."

Simpson said previously female servers could wear pants on request, and skirts were required be no shorter than an inch above the knee.

She said women who work at the restaurant chain were never required to wear short skirts or high heels.

"Ten years ago, probably the skirts were shorter," she said. "And I think there was a lot more acceptance about that."

She said a few years ago the policy changed to require a minimum length for skirts.

"It's a bit of a daunting task to stay on top of the dress code so that both male and female staff are dressed appropriately."

There are about 6,000 staff at Earls restaurants across Canada.

Edmonton AM asked listeners what they think of the new pants policy:

No bow tie required for Earls employees, though one listener, Melanie Samaroden, tweeted, "20 years ago, men and women at Earls were expected to wear blue jeans, a white buttoned-up shirt and a neck tie." (CBC)

Some felt the change was a step forward:

Others were unimpressed that the new option is being served up now: 

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