Canadian Women Don't Have to Wear Heels to Work: Why Do We?

Canada's keeping high heels out of the workplace: when will the US follow suit? Last year, one of the Canadian provinces took a giant leap ahead of the U.S. in promoting the foot health of all employees. British Columbia premier Christy Clark made an amendment to the province’ s Worker’s Compensation Act that will ensure workplace footwear promotes “optimum safety to the employee”.

What this really means is that nobody’s boss can make high heels part of an office dress code, since that particular form of footwear puts workers at risk of “slipping, tripping and/or musculoskeletal injury.”

In announcing the new amendment, Clark said:

 “In some workplaces in our province, women are required to wear high heels on the job. Like most British Columbians, our government thinks this is wrong…dangerous and discriminatory” and that “there is a risk of physical injury from slipping or falling, as well as possible damage to the feet, legs and back from prolonged wearing of high heels while at work.”

Meanwhile, while no such law has hit the books in the U.K (where Nicole Thorp, who I’ve blogged about previously, has petitioned for a legal ban on high-heel workplace dress codes) or in the U.S., there have been some positive developments closer to home.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights now expressly prohibits “enforcing dress codes, uniforms, and grooming standards that impose different requirements based on sex or gender…”so, if employers want women to wear high heels on the job, they’ll have to ask men to do the same, which I don’t see happening any time soon.

Here’s the deal, guys: high heels are bad for your feet. Wearing them all day, everyday, at your place of employment is even worse. Employers need to get with the program and stop forcing women  to permanently injure themselves. And if they can’t figure that out on their own, I’m of the firm belief that a little legal push in the right direction wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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