Photo Of A Waitress's Bloody Feet Shows The Inherent Sexism In The Restaurant Industry
Waitresses and bartenders face instances of sexism every day, and chalk it up to just being part of working in the service industry. But when a photo of a waitress’s bloody feet went viral on Facebook last week, people were surprised to see that the sexism wasn’t just coming from a patron who had a few too many. In this instance, the poster claimed that it was the employer that was allegedly enacting sexist policies.
Nicola Gavins, who works as a make up artist, shared the shocking image of her friend’s socks stained red with blood after working a full shift as a waitress. According to the post, the unnamed friend pictured allegedly works as a waitress at the Edmonton Joey restaurant in Alberta, Canada. The JOEY chain of "premium casual dining" has been around since 1992, but according to Gavins, their policies are "archaic." In her post, she wrote that the waitresses are required to wear heels during their shift unless they have a note from their doctor.
Britt Innes, VP Marketing for Joey Restaurant Group, responded to the post's accusations in an email to Bustle. Perrin stressed that they have taken the feedback into consideration, saying, "The moment we saw this post I reached out to connect with the partner (employee) right away. Our partners' feedback is extremely important to us, so I wanted to hear directly from her about her experience. After speaking with her, we followed up with our management team at this location and also sent out company-wide communication to ensure everyone has the correct information and training materials around our policies and guidelines."
Gavins' May 3 post made claims about Joey's employee guidelines, which the restaurant then clarified. Gavins' post is below.
"Their policy is still that female staff wear heels unless medically restricted, my friends 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. "
Gavin also shared a portion of Joey's alleged recent training manual that stated "women's shoes have a min 1" heel max, 3"". Bustle has reached out to the Joey restaurant group to verify that this manual is distributed at the company, and will update upon their reply.
Joey's spokesperson further clarified Bustle, saying that the regulations Gavins mentioned were inaccurate.
"In March there was considerable media attention on dress code in the service industry and this started a great internal dialogue with our partners. We conducted audits and sent out a survey to get our partners` anonymous insights and feedback. The major learning from our partners was that they wanted a change in our shoe guidelines. We made these changes and rolled this out in late March. However, it is clear that it did not reach every partner and I take ownership for that. In retrospect, we should have ensured all outdated training materials were destroyed.
Our current shoe guidelines require both male and female partners 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 who choose to wear heels, we require the heel height to be no higher than 2.5”. I have attached the updated Shoe Guideline for your reference.
In regards to the two other points that came up in the post I wanted to clarify that 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 partners. This deposit is not a fee and is repaid upon return of these items.
As you can understand, we were troubled to see this image circulating. After speaking with the partner our next step was to investigate the situation in all of our restaurants, with all of our management teams. We are ensuring everyone is clear about the updated shoe guidelines.
I stand behind our current guidelines, and am seeing to it personally that they are being implemented.
Below are the shoe guidelines updated for clarification after Gavins' post:
The original post of the waitress's feet has been shared over 11,000 times, and has amassed over 400 comments. Many users have flocked to the post, posting their own stories of sexism in the restaurant industry in the comments section.
Regardless of whether or not Joey's has this policy in place, a lot of restaurants still do enforce strict and often sexist dress codes on their employees. As someone who worked as a waitress for years, I know how painful being on your feet all day can be. Even in comfortable shoes, your feet ache at the end of a shift, and blisters and joint pain are hazards of the trade. If you are on your feet for eight hours or more, there’s no telling what could happen in heels. Discomfort aside, research suggests that frequently wearing high heels is damaging, and nobody should be forced to put their health at risk daily by the enforcement of a dress code.