These Men in Dresses Get an A+ for How They Fought Sexist Dress Codes

March 10th 2016

Taylor Bell

Following a report revealing sexist dress codes in bars and restaurants in Canada, a group of male servers in Ottawa wore dresses to work on Wednesday night to stand in solidarity with women who have faced discrimination in the workplace, BuzzFeed reports.

Ivan Gedz, the co-owner of pub Union Local 613 and his associates stepped out in dresses and put on their high heels as a way to protest against sexist dress codes in popular restaurant chains in Canada. Gedz was inspired to do so following a CBC Marketplace investigation that found that many women "feel pressured to wear sexy outfits" or risk losing their jobs.

"I’ve worked 17 plus years in the restaurant industry and have heard various horror stories, including some from our staff here right now,” Gedz told BuzzFeed.

According to the report, many women have complained that wearing sexy clothing and high heels disrupts their ability to perform their duties and makes them susceptible to sexual harassment. As a result, several women have brought their cases to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

"If you’re going to have a dress code, make it equal between the sexes,” Gedz told BuzzFeed. “What’s the point of forcing someone into a mini skirt other than to sexualize them?”

For Gedz and his staff, the experience of parading around in heels and short dresses proved to be an eye-opening experience, telling the CBC how uncomfortable it was to be the center jokes and, at times, unwanted attention.

"If this is what women have to deal with in days or weeks or years of working in restaurants, or wherever they're working, then I can't even really imagine that, actually. It's kind of tough," server James Tilden told the CBC.

As more women have spoken out against the sexist dress codes, the OHRC called for an end to gender-specific attire in the workplace deemed discriminatory.

"Employers must make sure their dress codes don’t reinforce sexist stereotypes," OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane said in a press release. "They send the message that an employee’s worth is tied to how they look. That’s not right, and it could violate the Ontario Human Rights Code."

The controversy has already sparked some change. Earls, one of the restaurants that have been tied to sexist dress codes, to change its stance on limited dress options for its female staff. According to a press release, male and female workers will be able to choose "varying heel heights from a walking shoe or a short boot."