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  1. ITV Report

Receptionist 'sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels'

Nicola Thorp said she believes the company's dress code is sexist. Credit: ITV News

A receptionist was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels.

Nicola Thorp, 27, from east London, was told she needed arrive at accountancy firm PwC wearing two to four inch heels.

The 27-year-old from Hackney complained the policy was discriminatory because men could wear flat shoes.

Credit: ITV News

Ms Thorpe was being employed by PwC's outsourced reception firm Portico.

She told ITV London: "I turned up for work wearing smart flat shoes and was told you can't wear those, you need to go and wear heels.

"I said I don't have any with me and I don't think it's right that you are expecting me to work a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients around the building.

"They said fine, you can go and buy a pair and I'll let you work or you're going to be sent home.

"I pointed to a male colleague and said he's wearing smart flat shoes, I'm wearing smart flat shoes, what's the difference here?

"And I was laughed at because I was making it a sexist issue, which is what I believe it is."

Employers are currently allowed to impose high heels in their dress codes. Credit: PA

Employers are allowed to dismiss staff who fail to meet reasonable dress code guidelines, if they have been given time to buy the right clothes.

Nicola has now launched a petition to make it illegal for companies to force women to wear high heels.

She is also pushing for employer's dress codes to be debated in parliament.

Simon Pratt, Managing Director at Portico who employed Ms Thorp, said in a statement:

We can confirm that the individual in question did report to work for Portico with inappropriate footwear on 7 December 2015, having previously signed the appearance guidelines.

Upon arrival, they were advised by Portico that they would need to be dressed in accordance with the guidelines to complete their shift and were offered the opportunity to source alternative shoes. Having declined said opportunity, the individual chose to return home and not complete the shift.

It is common practice within the service sector to have appearance guidelines and Portico operates them across many of our corporate locations.

These policies ensure customer-facing staff are consistently well presented and positively represent a client’s brand and image.

They include recommendations for appropriate style of footwear for the role. We have taken on board the comments regarding footwear and will be reviewing our guidelines.

– Simon Pratt

A PwC statement said: "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."