A 27-year-old woman is pressing the British government to intervene after she says she was sent home from work for not wearing heels. Nicola Thorp says she arrived at her temp job at London finance company PricewaterhouseCoopers in December and was told she had to wear shoes with a 2- to 4-inch heel. "I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms,'" she tells the BBC. "I said, 'If you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough,' but they couldn't." Thorp—who says she was laughed at when she complained that men didn’t have to follow the same rule—notes she was sent home without pay when she refused to change her shoes. A rep for the British Trades Union Congress says the case "reeks of sexism," per a separate BBC story.
PwC says it doesn't have a dress code, but outsourcing firm Portico—which handles its reception services—does. Portico says Thorp signed its "appearance guidelines" but showed up with "inappropriate footwear" anyway. Thorp has now created a petition demanding that "sexist" dress codes requiring women to wear high heels be outlawed. "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," Thorp tells the Telegraph. The petition has more than 30,000 signatures, meaning the British government has to respond. If the number hits 100,000, that guarantees a debate in Parliament. Meanwhile, Portico says it has "taken on board the comments regarding footwear and will be reviewing our guidelines." (In the US, a female student was kicked out of her prom because she chose not to wear a formal dress.)