Remember being told off for not tucking in your shirt or wearing the correct length tie at school? It sucked, didn’t it, getting scorned for not abiding by arbitrary rules on how to dress oneself. Isn’t it great that it doesn’t happen in adult life any more?
Except for one woman – 27-year-old Nicola Thorp – it did. She claims she was sent home from consultancy firm PwC without pay on her first day as a receptionist because she came to work wearing flat shoes and refused to go out and buy a pair of heels.
She told the Evening Standard: “When I arrived on site, I was turned away from work because I was not wearing high heels.
“I expressed my confusion as to why, and they explained that flat shoes are not part of their dress code for women.
“The supervisor told me that I would be sent home without pay unless I went to the shop and bought a pair of two- to four-inch heels. I refused and was sent home.”
She added: “When I pointed out that my male colleague was allowed to work in flat shoes, and that I felt that I was being discriminated against, I was laughed at. I left feeling upset and confused.”
She says she was sent home without pay after refusing to go out and buy a pair of heels.
PwC have confirmed that they used temping agency Portico to employ their front of house staff. Portico were reportedly responsible for enforcing uniform standards. Thorp also claims that she was told to wear makeup for the role of receptionist and was given a colour chart of “acceptable shades” (whatever that means).
Frustrated by her employer’s treatment, Thorp called an employment rights helpline to seek advice, but was told that employers legally have the right to impose a formal dress code – including high heels – in the workplace.
She has now launched an online petition to end this “outdated and sexist” law.
A representative from PwC told the Press Association: “PwC outsources its front of house/reception services to a third party supplier. We first became aware of this matter on May 10 some five months after the issue arose. The dress code referenced in the article is not a PwC policy. We are now in discussion with the suppliers about the policy”.