Update: Ladies in the U.K. have been using social media show solidarity with Nicola Thorp, the woman who says she was sent home from work for not wearing heels, according to The Guardian. Women have been sharing photos of themselves wearing flat shoes at work on Twitter under the hashtag #FawcettFlatsFriday, showing how much — or how little — their choice of footwear affects their job performance. Even politicians have been getting in on the action, including Labour MP Stella Creasy and Women’s Equality party cofounder Catherine Mayer. The hashtag was started by the Fawcett Society, a U.K.-based charity which campaigns for gender equality.
Thorp, who was sent home from a receptionist temp job at PricewaterhouseCoopers in December, has since started a petition to change the law to forbid employers from requiring women to wear high heels. As of Saturday morning, the petition received more than 130,000 signatures. This story was originally published on May 11, 2016.
A receptionist in London is claiming that she was discriminated against — for a ridiculous reason. "I got sent home from work for wearing flats," Nicola Thorp, an employee at PricewaterhouseCoopers, a finance company in the United Kingdom, tweeted on Tuesday. Thorp, who added that in the U.K., "It's still legal for employers to require women to wear heels," has shared an online petition asking the government to make the practice illegal.
As the BBC notes, current laws allow employers to "dismiss staff who fail to live up to 'reasonable' dress code demands." Those demands can be different for male and female employees as long as they meet an "equivalent level of smartness." Thorp told the BBC that working a full day in heels was difficult, but that she was told on her first day of work that she needed to buy a pair anyway. "I said, 'If you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me [from doing] my job today, then fair enough,' but they couldn't," she told BBC Radio London. The employee also claims that she asked if a man would be required to do the same job in heels — and she was laughed at for making the suggestion.
PwC, meanwhile, issued a statement explaining that it "outsources its front-of-house/reception services to Portico," another company. "The dress code referenced in the media is not a PwC policy," the statement reads. "PwC does not have specific dress guidelines for male or female employees, but we ask our people to exercise their own judgement around the business environment they're operating in." PwC followed its initial statement with an updated statement that Portico is "updating its uniform policy with immediate effect."