Rules requiring women to wear high heels to work should be illegal, U.K. petition says
More than 129K signatures on petition launched by Nicola Thorp — who was sent home for wearing flats
A British receptionist who was sent home from work for refusing to wear heels has been vindicated after setting up a petition that has mustered enough support to put it on the radar of the U.K. Parliament.
Nicola Thorp, 27, had been told in December that her flat shoes were unacceptable in London while on assignment for staffing agency Portico.
She was sent home without pay after refusing to change her shoes.
Portico considered high heels with a two-to-four-inch heel essential to its "female grooming policy," according to British media reports.
100,000! Yes! Let's keep it going all you wonderful men and women <a href="https://t.co/2VxzAQhdoC">https://t.co/2VxzAQhdoC</a>—@MissNicolaSian
But Thorp fought back, writing up an online petition asking for it to be made illegal for employers to require female workers to wear heels at work.
"Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist," the petition's description reads.
The document has garnered more than 129,000 signatures, passing a key threshold requiring the U.K. Parliament to consider it for debate.
Thank you for all of your messages of support. Please tweet <a href="https://twitter.com/whoryouwearing">@whoryouwearing</a> (my woman's rights campaign) and share your own stories X—@MissNicolaSian
Speaking to the BBC, Thorp says she's been "overwhelmed" by the support to date.
"It has opened up a dialogue for women to talk about how they feel at work and how they're dressed," she said. "It shows it is an important matter and it is a step in the right direction."
But before the petition had even reached the 100,000-signature tipping point, Simon Pratt, the managing director of Portico, said the firm had changed its policy to allow workers to wear flat shoes if they prefer.
Similar policies have also been in the spotlight in Canada recently, with an Edmonton woman sharing a photo of her bloodied feet after she says she was required to wear high heels during a training shift at Joey Restaurants.
The 21-year-old says she was told by management she needed to wear one-to-three-inch heels and received a training manual stating the same. The company, meanwhile, called it a misunderstanding and said its dress code only requires a black dress shoe with a non-slip sole that could be a heel, wedge or flat.
According to some experts, certain female-focused dress codes may be a violation of human rights.
With files from The Associated Press and CBC Edmonton