I was recently shocked by a revelation from Nicola Thorp, a 27-year old temp worker who was ordered to go home without pay for not wearing high-heeled shoes.
Although her case gained global attention and a larger public opinion seemed to agree, her story als0 raised legal concerns across borders as to whether or not, a business can legally force it’s female employees to wear high heels? Nicola’s story has also raised questions among those working in an office environment where high heels are often the norm, especially where business attire is required.
The truth is, questions over dress code are nothing new. We’ve heard horrible stories about men and women facing discrimination because of their looks and attire. Some have been fired for being ‘too beautiful’ or ‘too sexy’. For example-
-Remember Debrahlee Lorenzana? The lady who made headlines in 2010 when she claimed that she was forced out her Manhattan Citibank job because she was too “sexy”? Village voice covered that story in details.
Well, stuff happened and she sued the bank for wrongful termination, and as you might think, the ending was not so rosy! Seemed like that case was too hot for a settlement.
According to Dealbreaker, “… Citibank did not enter into any kind of a settlement with Ms. Lorenzana or provide any payment to her.”
And may i add, from her photos, she rocked those high heels at the work place!
-Remember Melissa Nelson’s story too? The Iowa woman who was fired for being too ‘attractive’? Or Dilek Edwards who was fired for being too cute?
And that’s not all!
-Did you hear that story about Larycia Hawkins, a christian professor at Wheaton college, who was put on leave for wearing hijab?
It gets crazier!
-Another story according to BBC, is about a West African woman who works in a consultancy firm in London, who claims that her boss tells her to wear a weave to work because her natural ‘Afro hair is unprofessional’!
Such stories leave me in amazement! These are the kind of stories that catch both business and cultural attention. The idea of companies telling their employees what to wear, and firing them for not adhering to their rules, still puzzles many.
Of course what works for one organisation or department may not necessarily work for the others elsewhere in the world. But such cases or similar are likely create pitfalls for both employees and their employers and if not dealt with propely, they could fuel more gender, race, cultural and religious discrimination.