Kay Stratichuk had to quit her server job on Monday.
Stratichuk, who was an employee of the Canadian restaurant chain Original Joe’s, said she couldn’t wear the high heels her company allegedly demanded she wear and her bosses wouldn’t accept her doctor’s note.
“I couldn’t stand after my shift, I was in so much pain,” Stratichuk told Global News. “I understand the need for a dress code; however, safety and health should have been the first concern — not how we looked when guys checked us out.”
Stratichuk, of Calgary, said she worked at Original Joe’s for over three years, but the new policy about footwear, which was implemented on May 15, forced her out of the job.
“Our general manager, Mel Bain, response was, ‘When a guy checks you out, he looks from the body down to the feet — heels look better,’” said Stratichuk, who also claimed her bosses wouldn’t allow her to wear anything other than a two-and-a-half-inch wedge heel.
She said the manager posted a sign announcing the policy, which read: “We must be in proper footwear when we clocked in … hair and makeup done, (I have seen you on Facebook, so I know what you are capable of looking like when you head to a bar).”
A doctor recommended Stratichuk not wear heels for several weeks after she complained about the pain the shoes were causing her.
Stratichuk's manager allegedly accused her of faking the doctor’s note, but she worked her next shift in flat shoes. Afterwards, she said, her manager asked to speak to her.
“As I was leaving, my manager told me I was no longer allowed on the floor without heels," she said. "I was told, ‘The owner’s here, and you can’t be here with those shoes.’”
Stratichuk claims her manager took away all of her shifts. “She did offer that I could work part time as an expo [running food to tables] but I couldn’t serve my own tables.”
Her doctor informed her that some of the bones in her feet were bruised and inflamed, and advised that she quit her job.
“As of June 12, 2015, a notice that was posted at Original Joe’s stating the following: ‘Hey all, in light of all the hoopla happening. Head office is in the process of reviewing their shoe policy. As of now servers are allowed to wear a polish able leather-ish closed toe sturdy stylish shoe. No toms.’ Just four days after quitting, they began to rethink their policies. I was essentially caused to lose wages, injure myself and quit for nothing,” Stratichuk wrote.
FranWorks Group of Companies, the parent company of Original Joe’s, said in a statement last week that they do not “not require our staff to wear heels.” FranWorks later said of Stratichuk’s case that they stood by their statement.
“We were not aware of this situation and would consider it an isolated incident,” FranWorks said in a statement. "We are currently investigating the situation."