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Why You Should Care About Dress Codes For Women Servers

Being a server is tough. You spend the better part of your six to ten hour shift on your feet – sometimes more – and it involves a lot of bending, running, walking and general physical activity. So, when your server is wearing three inch heels and a skirt that doesn’t even touch her fingertips, you should care about it. Because it’s not her choice, and it really sucks.

When thinking about servers having skimpy uniforms, it’s easy to just assume it’s Hooters or another male-oriented sports bar. But CBC’s Marketplace did an investigation into common dress codes for women servers across Canada, and found that it’s a lot more common than you would think. Popular chains Jack Astor’s, Earls, Joey’s and Moxie’s dress codes could actually potentially violate Canada’s human rights laws. These chains require servers to consistently dress sexy in order to keep their jobs.

In an interview with CBC, an anonymous Joey’s employee remarked that, “the dress is so tight that you can see your underwear through it.”

When women servers are told to dress like this, the employers are willingly perpetuating an already prevalent problem in the hospitality industry. Waitresses that dress skimpily (often against their own will) aren’t able to fend off unwanted attention from customers, especially in environments such as sports bars and golf courses where the “bro” behaviour is more tolerated.

University of Ottawa law professor Joanna St. Lewis told CBC that the policies are indeed discriminatory.

“It is sex discrimination,” Lewis said. “The male employees are doing exactly the same task as the female employees…And they do not need to sexualize their clothing. That’s the bottom line.”

I have been a server that’s been made to wear “sexy” clothing and more conservative clothing. The way that you are treated is completely different: I had to giggle at unfunny jokes and tell old men to stop flirting when I was wearing my tiny skirt; when I was wearing my Walmart black pants, I could be myself and do my job.

If you want to wear a sexy dress, by all means go for it. But being made to wear sexy clothing in an impractical environment is not only tiring, it’s discriminatory.

Ella is proud to be HC Western's President for the 2017-2018 year.
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