A receptionist in London is fighting back against a company dress code that reportedly requires women to wear heels.
Nicola Thorp, 27, showed up at finance company PwC for her first day of work as a temp and was reportedly told she must wear 2- to 4-inch high heels.
Thorp told the BBC she showed up in flat black shoes that were appropriate for a corporate atmosphere, but a representative for the company told her she could not wear them and would have to wear heels.
"She said, 'I'm sorry, all the women who work here have to wear heels,'" Thorp recalled, quoting the company representative. "And there was a male receptionist there, and I said 'He's not wearing heels,' and she laughed at me.
" ... I don't understand why it's so funny to expect him to wear heels and why she was expecting me to do the same."
The receptionist job involved nine-hour shifts escorting clients to and from meeting rooms at PwC's London headquarters, Thorp said, adding, "I just wouldn't be able to do that in heels."
"I said, 'If you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough,' but they couldn't," she told BBC Radio London.
After Thorp refused to wear heels, the company sent her home without pay. Thorp then posted about the experience on Facebook out of frustration, and as her post started to receive responses, she realized how many other women felt the same way.
"I was a bit scared about speaking up about it in case there was a negative backlash," she said. "But I realized I needed to put a voice to this as it is a much bigger issue."
Thorp set up a government petition asking the U.K. government to make it illegal for companies to require women to wear high heels. As of May 12, the petition had over 112,000 signatures, according to the official count at parliament.uk.
That mark is significant because when a petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the government is required to respond. But at 100,000 signatures, not only must the government respond, but lawmakers must consider the petition for an official debate.
"I can't believe it," Thorp told the Evening Standard.
Thorp compared the high heels issue to earlier dress standards for women in the workplace, pointing out that just a few decades ago, women weren't permitted to wear pants in the office and were expected to wear skirts. She said the fight may seem trivial, but to women who are in her situation, it's not.
"You're conflicted because you have rent to pay, you have bills to pay," Thorp said. "But I also wanted to keep my integrity."