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Is forcing female staff to wear high heels a violation of human rights?

Discussion in 'Podiatry Trivia' started by NewsBot, Jan 3, 2015.

  1. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

  2. Admin2

    Admin2 Administrator Staff Member

  3. Elizabeth Humble-Thomas

    Elizabeth Humble-Thomas Active Member

    As long as men aren't required to wear them too, then it is unquestionably a sexist violation.
  4. I had a 58 year old woman tell me last week in my office, when I told her that her high heeled dress shoes were the cause of her 5th toe pain and that she should try wearing athletic shoes for a while to see if it helped the pain, "I would rather die than wear athletic shoes all the time." And she was serious!

    From my perspective of dealing with female patients of all ages over the last 30 years, many women want to wear these shoes and have closets full of these shoes, sometimes numbering over 50 in number. There is no man forcing them to buy this many shoes. They do it on their own! So let's not blame the male race for the behavior of women and their shoe habits; women are as much to blame.

    Who is to blame then? This is caused by the culture of western civilization where women, to be attractive, are shown in all types of media and in real life that they need to be in these shoes to be perceived as being more "feminine". This has been going on for centuries. Maybe Cameron Kippen can come along and give us some historical information on exactly how long this has been present in our culture.
  5. W J Liggins

    W J Liggins Well-Known Member

    Anecdotally, it was Catherine de Medici who started the trend, simply because she was a formidable female ruler and did not want her male courtiers to tower over her. Obviously, the full length dresses of the time did not allow the height of the heel to be shown. It is certainly the case that in circa 17C Italy, France and Britain males wore high heels (yes even in those days the Frogs and Eye-ties dictated fashion trends).

    Obviously, higher heels accentuate the calf muscles, throw the pelvis forward, the chest up and the shoulders back, tending to a desirable posture (if not overdone). Why this only applies to females in the 21C is a matter of conjecture.

    Bill Liggins
  6. I don't have a problem with an employer having certain dress requirements for their employees. If the employer tells the prospective employee, "The female employees here are all required to dress nicely with at least a 2" heel on their shoes." then the woman who takes that job has no right, in my mind, to complain about it later. In no way is this a "sexist violation".

    This isn't "forcing female staff to wear high heels" any more it is "forcing female staff to wear clothes" if the female employees all decided to come to work without any clothes on and were asked to go home and go put back on their clothes. These are dress requirements dictated by the employer and if employees are told of this before they are hired, then I don't think they have "a leg to stand on in" complaining about it.

    As far as my office is concerned, my female employees can wear any shoes they want as long as their toes are covered, for safety reasons. They mostly wear athletic shoes to work.
  7. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    I doubt it would stand up in an industrial court that if an employee said that the shoes she/he were required to wear caused physical pain and she/he did not want or could not wear them, that she/he could be dismiss for this. A pain free alternative would need to be negotiated between employer and employee. If certain types of footwear (safety) or uniform are demanded then they must be provided by the employer or obtainable at reasonable cost. In the case of custom made footwear most large organisations will come to the party by either paying the cost entirely or making a contribution...say the cost of the footwear they would have provided. We are all required to wear footwear for work purposes and I think it reasonable that employers do specify what is required as a dress standard eg: flat, enclosed, no crocs etc, without providing the cost of the footwear.
    But I think at the end of the day "reasonable" would be the way most courts would rule on this.
  8. Elizabeth Humble-Thomas

    Elizabeth Humble-Thomas Active Member

    In all societies, certain cultural behaviours are expected. As societies move forward those behaviours or customs are questioned, and sometimes rejected or discarded.
    Chinese foot binding, female genital mutilation, the wearing of the burkha...
    I have noted in a previous post, that the majority of women who are expected to wear high heels to work are the most highly educated - lawyers, accountants etc.
    I cannot, as an educated woman myself, understand why they are prepared to wear uncomfortable (believe me, until you force yourself to learn how to wear them they are excruciating), damaging and exhausting shoes. I can only conclude that they do so in order to make themselves more acceptable in the patriarchal world they are daring to become part of.
    I am not a raging feminist, I do not hate men,I like to look attractive, but if I were expected to wear high heels at work then I suspect that it would genuinely break my spirit!
  9. I believe it is a very complicated subject and one in which there are no easy answers for.

    Obviously, if a woman answers an advertisement to be a stripper, decides she wants to work there as a stripper, works there for a week and then decides she doesn't want to take off her clothes any more for her customers, then there is going to be a problem with her employer and her customers. Yes, being a stripper seems sexist to me, but that is what some women do for a living, whereas other women wouldn't ever want to do that job. Does the employer of the strip-joint have a right to tell his employees they must take their clothes off? Of course, that is his business.

    As I said before, employers do have a right to impose certain restrictions on employees as far as the wearing of uniforms, wearing certain types of clothes, which may include wearing a certain styles of shoes. The employee, by agreeing to work for the employer, agrees also to their employers dress code.

    Of course, if a podiatrist writes a note saying that the employee must not wear high heeled shoes at work due to a medical condition, here in California, the employer must let the employee come to work in different shoes. However, from my experience in my own patients I have done that for, when that happens, sometimes the employer becomes upset and find some other reason to fire that employee since it creates an issue with the other employees. Like I said, it is complicated.:morning:
  10. dansut78

    dansut78 Welcome New Poster

    Interesting thread to find on a podiatry website. Just as a thought; should there be any differences in dress codes for men and women? I worked for an organisation where men were required to wear suits, dress shirts, ties, dress shoes etc to work, while woman were allowed to wear whatever they liked. In a blistering hot summer I found that very unfair and organised for all the female employees to come to work wearing the male dress code....the employer was not impressed. Nothing changed in the rule books, but at least I made my point. So in conclusion, to me it seems that a dress code should be there for all, no matter whether the employee is male, female, transgender or whatever. Too me it seems as absurd to make women wear high heels, as it is to make men having to wear uncomfortable suits when women can wear sandals and light summer dresses! Kind regards
  11. So, men and women should be able to wear whatever they want, or just wear their underclothes (i.e. briefs, bras and panties), when they go to work? Please elaborate on how you would write your own dress code, if you employed 50 men and women and you were the owner of a law firm.
  12. Ros Kidd

    Ros Kidd Active Member

    Many organisations do provide a choice in the combinations of clothes that staff can wear eg: long slacks open neck shirt/blouse, knee length shorts/skirt. If one of the male staff by tradition or gender identity wants to wear a skirt then so be it. In the court case that I was involved with underwear per se was not discussed apart from socks. No you don't need to wear them if you don't want to. The judges wore some red gear and wigs. One of our lawyers did not wear a tie and later took off his jacket. No one raised an eyebrow. "Dress codes should reflect the work requirements, safety, comfort and lastly fashion. This code should be regularly reviewed and be fluid in nature". I believe the guys in the wigs.
  13. dansut78

    dansut78 Welcome New Poster

    No of course not! I think there is such a concept as "common sense". I just do not think it is a good idea to single out any one sex, religion, age group etc. In the company I worked for, the women did not abuse their right to wear what they wanted. There will always be conflict and there will always be individuals who feel that they need to challenge the existing status quo. In my opinion that is a good thing. I also think it is dependent in which country you live and what they common sensibilities with regard to dress codes are. Times are changing and like everything else attitudes as well as fashion changes. No woman or men would now wear, or be expected to wear, formal dress wear that was the standard 100 years ago. As an employer of a law firm I would expect and have in the contract that a reasonable attire is required for my employees that does not bring the company in disrepute. For men that feel that a suit is required to give a 'professional' image that would be fine. For women who feel they want to wear high heels that is is fine as well. But equally men should be able to wear clean and tidy casual trousers and shirts if they so prefer and women can choose to wear appropriate dress as well, including shoes. Of course the question comes what is 'appropriate', however as I say that is a matter of different cultures as well as the individual culture within a company. I totally agree with you in that if a standard is set by an employer, and the employee knows about it prior to employment, the employee can then only try and negotiate a different clause or exception, but cannot expect the employer to change their standards and requirements only because they feel it is 'unfair'. I just think that it is worthwhile thinking about certain requirements and find the exact rationale for them. I do not believe that it should be law for employers to adhere or make certain dress codes, however I think each individual employer should think about what and why they are setting standards. As for your example of people coming to work in their underwear, it is highly unlikely (even though some attire is not much more than that anyway!) that an employee would chose to do so. In any case, this argument could be carried on forever, but I think we would all agree that it is often a matter of degree and intention on both sides, the employer and employee. Everyone has different tastes, fashion sense and sensibilities: for me an ill fitting suit is worse than smart casual well chosen casual outfit. Avery good friend of mine is the employer of a large law firm, they chose to let their employees wear casual smart. However he is also the president of the city law society and other law firms in the city have a stricter dress codes. Another good friend employes more than 500 people in an IT company, again there is an expectation on dress standards but does not go as far as being specific on the height of the heel. I am also an employer and require staff to wear certain clothing - so far (last 30 years) I had no problems. Either way thanks for your contributions I will not bore you any longer with my experiences and views, this forum surely is meant for more podiatry related subjects, and I very much value your comments and insights and helpful suggestions. Also, thanks very much for your thought provoking comments on this particular subject. Kind regards Dani
  14. dansut78

    dansut78 Welcome New Poster

    Well said! :)
  15. Good reply, Dani. Welcome to Podiatry Arena.:welcome:
  16. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    For what types of occupation do you think an employer should be able to insist that a female member of staff wears high heeled shoes?

    In the above paragraph I was going to insert, after 'occupation', 'outside the sex industry' but decided not to. But that in fact it is central to the issue.

    Where does the 'sex industry' begin and end? If putting women in high heeled shoes sells more of the 'product' and we can disguise what we are doing (both from our selves and others) by calling it attractive, fashionable, aesthetic, feminine are we really just extending the scope and range of the 'sex industry' and its commercial power and of course male domination.

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  18. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Is forcing a woman to wear high heeled shoes, unless it's necessary for carrying out the work, eg Industrial footwear, a violation of human rights.

    Unarguably, yes.

  19. Elizabeth Humble-Thomas

    Elizabeth Humble-Thomas Active Member

    I haven't been following this thread lately. It seems that certainly one of the contributors gets a certain 'frisson' from describing female clothing. Let' s not go there.
    I agree entirely that it is unfair that men are expected to wear shirts, ties, jackets and long trousers when women can wear summer dresses and sandals.
    FIGHT your corner gentlemen!
    As for high heeled shoes. They are uncomfortable, they cause deformities of the foot. They cause localised pressure lesions of the foot. They damage toenails. They damage the joints of the feet and ankles which cause arthritic changes in later life. They affect the knees, hips and back, also causing arthritic changes in later life. This damage can leave the woman unable to live a full and active life.
    There is no item of clothing that men are expected to wear that can cause life-changing physical changes.
    To be forced, even expected, to wear heels over one inch - by an employer,is completely unacceptable. Is unquestionably sexist, and should be made illegal.
  20. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.


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