Sent home from work for not wearing heels

By Vanessa Brown

Nicola Thorp.
Nicola Thorp.

An actress claims she was sent home on her first day at a receptionist job in London without being paid - all because she refused to wear high heels.

Nicola Thorp, who has appeared in Doctor Who, says that when she arrived at accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) offices in London in flat shoes she was told that she could only come to work wearing two to four inch high heels.

The 27-year-old was picking up temp work with PwC's outsourced reception firm Portico when the alleged incident occurred.

When Thorp complained about being discriminated against, she claims she was "laughed at" by a manager. The actress also claims she was officially sent home after she refused to go out and buy a pair of heels.

In response to the incident, Thorp launched a petition.

"When I arrived on site, I was turned away from work because I was not wearing high heels," she said.

"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."

PwC in London said the dress code was not its policy and that the member of staff involved worked for Portico.

After the incident, it is understood Thorp called an employment rights helpline for advice, but was told that bosses have the right to enforce a formal dress code in the workplace.

Thorp has launched an online petition to try to make it illegal for companies to force women to wear high heels to work.

"I started this petition because I was outraged that in 2016, employers still have the right to make women wear heels against their will in the workplace," she said.

"A woman deserves the choice to wear smart heels or smart flats, whichever is more comfortable or practical for work."

However after posting it on the "I'm a Promo Ho" Facebook group - a page for "resting actors, models and dancers" - her petition received mixed reviews.

Nicola Thorp's petition.
Nicola Thorp's petition.

Most women were supportive but several men slammed the actress for complaining about an insignificant "gripe".

"As a male I resent having to wear a suit on hot days! Where is the 'go to business meetings in a T-shirt and be taken seriously' petition??" one commenter said.

"If the job description requires high heels because the manager or owner is after a certain 'look' and you don't want to wear high heels don't take the f****** job you whinge bags," another added.

Thorp hopes the petition will force the UK Government to "make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work".

A spokeswoman for PwC told the Evening Standard that "PwC outsources its front of house/reception services to a third party supplier. We first became aware of this matter on 10 May 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."

- news.com.au

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