Sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels
A RECEPTIONIST at a top City firm says she was sent home without pay for not wearing high heels.
Nicola Thorp describes how she was “laughed out of the office” when she questioned the “sexist” dress code.
She says she arrived for her first day at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers in black flat shoes only to be told she must wear heels as well as make-up of “acceptable shades”.
The jobbing actress, 27, who has appeared alongside Matt Smith in episodes of Doctor Who, is now on the way to having the issue debated in Parliament for a change in the law after her petition went global yesterday.
Ms Thorp, who was employed by reception services provider Portico, said: “They said I could go out to buy a pair of two to four-inch heels or go home.
“I was expected to do a ninehour shift meeting and greeting clients but I wasn’t prepared to be on my feet all day in heels and I wasn’t going to do that.
“When I refused to wear them they laughed at me. I pointed out that I felt discriminated against and I left feeling upset and confused.
“Portico told me that I could wear trousers but that the client prefers it if you wear a skirt.
“This is an issue of gender. I’ve looked into it and, legally, the only way I can defend my right to wear flat shoes at work is if I want to identify with my employer as a male.”
Ms Thorp describes herself as a feminist and hopes to gain 100,000 signatures in order that her campaign reaches Parliament.
Yesterday, signatory numbers from 5,000 to more than 20,000.
She said: “These dress codes are in place because of old-fashioned stereotypes of women.
“People say that heels are just more feminine but why should I need to express my gender at work?
“People have said to me before that they just need someone pretty for people to look at in reception.
“Lots of my friends have had the same happen with them. Things need to change.
“I believe that women deserve equality with men and our feelings should not just be disregarded.”
Messages of support from outraged friends and strangers have flooded in. Author Carol Harris wrote on Twitter: “Unbelievable in the 1980s, never mind now. A company to avoid.” Friend Aimee Shaw said: “God forbid you want to stand all day and be comfortable. That is ridiculous.” A spokeswoman for PwC insisted it does not expect women to wear heels or follow a dress code. She added: “A Portico supervisor told her to wear heels, it was not a PWC staff member. She would have been aware of the Portico dress code before she came.”
A Portico spokeswoman said it has guidelines to “ensure staff are dressed consistently”. She said: “We have taken on board the comments regarding footwear and will be reviewing our guidelines.”