Viral Photo of a Waitress' Feet Shows an Insane Challenge Faced by Female Workers

May 9th 2016

It's not easy being a waitress.

In addition to facing low wages, rude tippers and sexual harassment, a viral photo posted by a woman in Canada shows the pain they're forced to endure to meet sexist beauty standards. 

This viral post of a waitress' bloody feet highlights this struggle.

Last week Nicola Gavins shared this photo, claiming that an unidentified female friend of hers was forced to wear heels while working at the restaurant Joey in Edmonton, Alberta:

"Their policy is still that female staff wear heels unless medically restricted, my [friend's] feet were bleeding to the point she lost a toe nail and she was still discouraged and berated by the shift manager for changing into flats (specifically told that heels would be required on her next shift the following day). In addition, the female staff have to purchase a uniform/dress at the cost of [$30] while male staff can dress themselves in black clothing from their own closets (and are not required to wear heels). Sexist, archaic requirements and totally disgusting policy.

I have many friends in the service industry and know loads of ladies who still earn great tips without having to sacrifice their comfort while serving. I'll choose to continue supporting those establishments."

High HeelsWikimedia Commons - wikimedia.org

Gavins added that the restaurant has unpaid training shifts, which is illegal under the Alberta Labour Laws unless the training is conducted in a classroom setting. Gavins also updated her post to include an anecdote from a woman who claimed to have recently worked for Joey restaurants. The woman revealed that she was not paid for the first few days of training and complained of a toxic work environment:

"On the topic of disorganization and miscommunication - it was also brought to my notice through social media that another previous employee had an awful experience with the mandatory heels rule. Despite the JOEY Leadership team recently stating that heels are not mandatory, that was not what was communicated to me & my partners in training (where you needed at least a small heel). It just goes to show that this is in fact an all around problem rather than referring to it as a 'not world class experience.'"

In the comments area, Gavins also included what she said was a screenshot of the Joey restaurants training manual, which indeed reveals that female staffers are required to wear heels:

Nicola Gavins FacebookNicola Gavins Facebook - facebook.com

Sasha Perrin, the communications manager for Joey, told ATTN: in an email statement that there is no minimum height requirement for their shoe policy, among other things:

"We were upset to see this post and reached out to connect with the employee right away. Our employees’ feedback is extremely important to us, so we wanted to hear directly from her about her experience. After speaking with her, we followed up with our management team and employees to ensure everyone has the correct information and training materials around our policies and guidelines.
Our current shoe guidelines require both male and female employees to wear a black dress shoe that is non-slip with a thick sole for safety reasons. Under this guide, they choose what is comfortable for them. There is no minimum height when it comes to our shoe policy. Shoes range from black dress flats, wedges and heels. For those employees wearing heels, we require the heel height to be no higher than 2.5'.
In regards to our training pay and fees, we have always strictly followed provincial regulations regarding training pay. We do not charge a fee for uniforms. We do require a refundable deposit for serving related equipment from both male and female employees for serving related equipment. This deposit is not a fee and is repaid upon return of these items.
What is clear from this incident is that, internally, there was a lack of communication and understanding around our guidelines. We are working hard to ensure everyone fully understands our business practices and expectations in these areas. The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees are of the utmost importance to us."

Gavins' post has received more than 10,000 Facebook shares.

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FacebookFacebook - facebook.com

Some have also complained on Joey's Facebook page:

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FacebookFacebook - facebook.com

Heels are more than just painful.

Research has shown that wearing in heels for long stretches of time can have a negative impact on one's health. A study in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that long-term use of heels can damage muscles in the feet and increase the stiffness of the Achilles' tendon. This in turn lowers the ankle's motion range and increases one's risk of injuries and strains.

This article has been updated to include a statement from Perrin.

RELATED: This Waitress' Response to a $0 Tip Is Pretty Damn Powerful

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