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Work/ Career

I noticed on your website you answered a question from a woman who asked whether a firm of accountants was within its rights to insist that a female employee wore a skirt suit to work. You advised the woman in question that such a stipulation is "almost certainly illegal". Unfortunately I have learnt that there is no nation or state *anywhere in the world* that affords women the right to cover their legs - except for the lucky residents of California.

I'm a British solicitor (= legal executive or junior attorney in the States) who last year was threatened with dismissal for wearing a smart black tailored trouser (=pant) suit to a client meeting. My employer insists on above- the-knee business skirts and no tights (bare legs are the norm in the North-East of England) - even in the depths of winter. In the hope of defending my right to modesty and comfort I considered taking the matter to Court to establish a legal precedent and researched the case history in my country and overseas. I discoverd that in the absence of specific legislation to the contrary (and this exists only in California) all developed Western nations permit employers to specify any dress code they choose for women, provided there is an equally specific code for men.

Why should I have to put up with the pain of waxing, the discomfort of being frozen all winter, the humiliation of men staring at my legs and the restriction of always having to sit with my legs crossed and consider who's coming up the stairs behind me? Do I really need to do all these things to be considered "professional"? If so, I'll do them gladly, because I'm good at what I do, and want to get on. Or are they thing which prevent me from being taken seriously, that label me as "just a girl"?


Wow, just when we thought we had taken a few steps forward, we learn what is still left. Thank you so much for your e-mail. My hope is that by posting it here, others will be inspired to inquire about policies within their own workplaces and hopefully lobby accordingly. Good luck in England and thank you for entertaining the idea of a legal precedence---I'm sure many others would thank you, too.


Amy

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