Fired because of shoes – level 3
"I can't believe it! I'm going to push for the 100,000 and then some, so that we can get this brought up in Parliament, cause as I said, it's not just about heels, this is a women's rights issue."
A government petition, its numbers continuing to rise high – all because of high heels. Nicola Thorp was fired for turning up to work wearing flat shoes.
"I was so upset. And there’s this horrible contradiction in your head between, actually, it's a small deal: wear the heels, earn money – but there's such a bigger issue and you're conflicted because I have a rent to pay, I had bills to pay, but I also wanted to keep, you know, my integrity."
Described as baffling by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, and an example of outdated sexism, Nicola's job security rested flat out on replacing her flat shoes with heels between 2 and 4 inches.
"There is an argument that says that if a woman is forced to wear something which makes her feel uncomfortable or inhibits the way in which she can carry out her professional duties, then that could be less favourable treatment."
Employers have the discretion to supply a dress code and allow for differences between men and women, but they must abide by an equivalent level of formality. The company involved said she'd signed the appearance guidelines and knew what she was agreeing to. Some argue that heel and make-up requirements are no different to shirt and tie requirements for men.
"There’s a history behind heels and the damage that it can do to women, and there’s a sexualised element to it as opposed to a shirt and tie for a man. There just is that difference and it's steeped in a history of sexism and objectification."
The petition has accumulated nearly 30,000 figures and established its own social media presence with its hashtag “myheelsmychoice”. Nicola can stand with her head held high and her feet planted firmly on the ground.
Difficult words: contradiction (a conflict), integrity (staying true to your principles), baffling (impossible to understand), rest (to depend on), flat out (completely), inhibit (to stop), discretion (permission), abide (to act according to a rule), steep (to be based in), objectification (to look at a person as an object or a thing), figure (a number), planted (to set, to put), head held high (to stand up for oneself), feet planted firmly on the ground (this is a pun—to be firm in your beliefs and to be close to the ground).
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