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#1
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jul/01/harrods-dress-code-sales-assistant

A sales assistant at Harrods claims she has been "driven out" of her job over her refusal to wear makeup.

Melanie Stark, 24, said her battle with the Knightsbridge store left her "exhausted, stressed and upset".

On two occasions she was sent home; on another she was sent to work in the stockroom.

Stark, based in the HMV department in Harrods, said she had been described by one manager as among the best of their employees and worked without makeup for four years, before being asked to comply with the store's strict dress code.

The two-page "ladies" dress code stipulates: "Full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly (please take into account the store display lighting which has a 'washing out' effect)."

When she refused she was offered a makeup workshop and told, 'You can see what you look like with makeup', she said.

"I was appalled. It was insulting. Basically, it was implying it would be an improvement. I don't understand how they think it is OK to say that.", she said.

I know what I look like with makeup. I have used it, though never at work. But I just could not see how, in this day and age, Harrods could take away my right to choose whether to wear it or not."

Stark had complied with all other aspects of the dress code. "But it's not like wearing black trousers, or a black shirt. This is my face.

"Make up can change your features completely, especially if I was to wear all of what they were asking. I would look like a different person to me. And I never chose to look like that."

Last week she resigned rather than comply with the code after working at the store for five years, three of them part-time while a philosophy, religion and ethics student at King's College London, and the last two years full-time after completing her masters. "I was happy there, but I've been driven out."

One legal expert said Stark could have grounds to sue Harrods.

Lawrence Davies, director of Equal Justice solicitors, said she might have a claim under the Equality Act 2010. "On the facts, she performed her role well for five years without makeup, so it is clearly not a valid prerequisite for her role."

Of the dress code, he said "custom and practice would suggest that her contract has changed over the years to allow her to not wear makeup".

Stark said she had been given a copy of the dress code when she joined HMV at Harrods aged 19, and had been given store approval after an interview during which she did not wear any makeup. Harrods had not sought to enforce the code until last August when, after a "floor walk" by senior managers, she was sent home for refusing to wear it.

In a letter to Harrods at the time she said: "To be told that one's face is inadequate is extremely degrading." She had a commendation for customer services, had been awarded 94% in a "mystery shop", on which unsuspecting staff were monitored, and met every other requirement in HMV's music section.

The next day, she was put to work in the stockroom, away from view.

She had received good support from HMV throughout, she said. The conflict was with Harrods.

Stark was summoned to a meeting with her Harrods floor manager During this, she said, she was told: "You've got two options. You wear make up or you leave". She said she was told: "We're not making you look like the girls on the beauty counter" and it was suggested she could "just wear eyeliner and lipstick". She said: "But if that was my choice, surely I had the choice to wear none."

On that occasion, Harrods appear to have backed down. She returned to work and continued without wearing makeup until three weeks ago, when, during a Powerpoint presentation a new floor manager told staff: "Girls. I want you to be made up."

"Alarm bells started ringing," she said. "Off I go again, another meeting." She was briefly transferred to HMV's Bayswater store while a resolution was sought - but had already decided to resign.

"I just could not go through with it all again. I wasn't going to compromise, but neither were they," she said. "And I felt it was time to move on."

A Harrods spokeswoman said: "All our staff are subject to a dress code which they sign up to on joining the company, which relates to an overall polished appearance. Our records show that discussions with Melanie Stark concerned a general lack of adherence to the dress code. However, no action was taken and she subsequently decided to leave the business of her own accord with no reference made to dress code."


What do you think?

Obviously, employers have the right to set certain conditions. But to me it's sad that it's as if being bare-faced is almost considered being naked.
Quote by Ian_the_fox
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#4
It's at Harrods. That's the most high class store in England. Employees there are supposed to look fantastic. You look high class to sell to the high class. It sucks, but that's the way it is.
And why didn't she just wear the makeup? Apparently she was already warned.
#6
What a joke. This kind of discrimination shouldn't be tolerated in this day and age. Also, I think she looks cute without make-up anyway....


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#8
Quote by JMcG92
What a joke. This kind of discrimination shouldn't be tolerated in this day and age. Also, I think she looks cute without make-up anyway....

It's not discrimination. It's just saying "Wear this uniform to work here". There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. She could've just worn the uniform, as fully detailed.
Quote by hriday_hazarika
I hope she can rape them financially.

Harrods? Rape Harrods financially?
#10
I've had jobs where they made me shave.

Just sayin.
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#12
Quote by Baby Joel
It's not discrimination. It's just saying "Wear this uniform to work here". There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. She could've just worn the uniform, as fully detailed.
Bullshit. If your place of work told you to wear makeup but the women didn't have to, you wouldn't wear Full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly (please take into account the store display lighting which has a 'washing out' effect). It's sexist and cretinous.
#13
Quote by Baby Joel
It's not discrimination. It's just saying "Wear this uniform to work here". There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. She could've just worn the uniform, as fully detailed.


exactly... if it was in the employee handbook or whatever they said it seems like she would know about it when she got the job. I feel like this would be like me flipping out if I got in trouble for wearing a t-shirt instead of my uniform polo shirt to work.
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#14
Quote by Baby Joel
It's at Harrods. That's the most high class store in England. Employees there are supposed to look fantastic. You look high class to sell to the high class. It sucks, but that's the way it is.
And why didn't she just wear the makeup? Apparently she was already warned.

I agree with that.

I seen the dress code to work in Sephora and the makeup rules were outrageous. You have to wear the foundation, conceal blemishes, wear blush, have bright lips and wear two shades of eye shadow and liner. You're also supposed to wear heels all day and stand. It sucks but there's nothing really a regular person can do about it.
STಠ_ಠ
#15
Quote by ethan_hanus
Only in the UK.


When I first saw the headline I was surprised it wasn't in the USA. My cousin works in California and is also required to wear makeup.

I don't have a problem with companies needing their employees to look professional and polished or whatever, it's the implication that your natural, clean face isn't considered so. That's a shitload of makeup to have to wear, anyway.
Quote by Ian_the_fox
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#16
Quote by due 07
Bullshit. If your place of work told you to wear makeup but the women didn't have to, you wouldn't wear Full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly (please take into account the store display lighting which has a 'washing out' effect). It's sexist and cretinous.

You seriously think this is sexist and cretinous?
Well then it's sexist that certain work places make me shave my sideburns to work at. It's sexist that I as a man have to wear a suit to work as a business man.

That's the way the whole store works. It's a pretentious store owned by rich dickheads, meant to market at other rich dickheads. The only men I've seen in there would be described as attractive, physically fit, clean haircut, clean shave, nice clothes. The men have to be just as presentable as the women. It's the uniform there, it's how it works.

She signed a contract saying she would wear makeup. She didn't wear makeup. She felt ousted, so she resigned. They gave her a chance to wear makeup, as she had agreed to do, and she didn't. So she left. I think she is making a much larger deal out of it than she needs to.


Also, ITT: Americans who have never seen Harrods.
#18
Quote by Baby Joel
It's not discrimination. It's just saying "Wear this uniform to work here". There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. She could've just worn the uniform, as fully detailed.

Except the uniform required is completely ridiculous, has nothing to do with work performance and didn't cause any problems. Clothes are one thing, being forced to change your appearance when it hasn't caused a problem until some out of touch, ass-backwards arsehole who has almost nothing to do with on the floor employees and on the floor work experience pulls the stupidity card over what is most likely a sexist, outdated and misguided work requirement.
Quote by Vornik
Thanks for the advice. I'm going to put it, along with your other advice, into a book, the pages of which I will then use to wipe my ass.
#20
Quote by due 07
Bullshit. If your place of work told you to wear makeup but the women didn't have to, you wouldn't wear Full makeup at all time: base, blusher, full eyes (not too heavy), lipstick, lip liner and gloss are worn at all time and maintained discreetly (please take into account the store display lighting which has a 'washing out' effect). It's sexist and cretinous.

If it was in the handbook, she shouldn't complain. It's not like they went up to HER specifically and asked her to wear make up. Why should everyone else have to wear makeup and she doesn't?
pinga
#21
**** i hate people who make you look a certain way. You should be allowed to do whatever you want with your own body as long as it harms no one. But then again she knew what she was getting into when she signed up for this job and that was one of the conditions however wrong it was. I understand but yet it still makes me want to deform those peoples faces. She didn't even look that bad anyways. **** society can suck sometimes.
#22
Quote by dann_blood
Except the uniform required is completely ridiculous, has nothing to do with work performance and didn't cause any problems. Clothes are one thing, being forced to change your appearance when it hasn't caused a problem until some out of touch, ass-backwards arsehole who has almost nothing to do with on the floor employees and on the floor work experience pulls the stupidity card over what is most likely a sexist, outdated and misguided work requirement.

Yeah, it didn't affect her performance at all, and I really doubt that people cared, but it's a contract that she agreed to, and broke. It's a stupid contract, but it's there.
That whole store is stupid, but it's there.
#23
Quote by Baby Joel
You seriously think this is sexist and cretinous?
Well then it's sexist that certain work places make me shave my sideburns to work at. It's sexist that I as a man have to wear a suit to work as a business man.
If you think wearing a suit or shaving is the same as wearing make-up, then you are a very silly man.
#24
Quote by Cb4rabid
If it was in the handbook, she shouldn't complain. It's not like they went up to HER specifically and asked her to wear make up. Why should everyone else have to wear makeup and she doesn't?

But it's apparantly not so important that she didn't wear make-up for five years without causing a problem.
Quote by Vornik
Thanks for the advice. I'm going to put it, along with your other advice, into a book, the pages of which I will then use to wipe my ass.
#25
Quote by dann_blood
But it's apparantly not so important that she didn't wear make-up for five years without causing a problem.

Maybe she slipped through the cracks, yes, but it's stil in the contract (I assume).

if she doesn't want to wear makeup, she shouldn't have applied. Believe me, i know it sucks and I think it's a stupid rule but it's fair.
pinga
#26
Quote by Cb4rabid
Why should everyone else have to wear makeup and she doesn't?
Not everyone else has to wear make-up.
#27
Quote by due 07
If you think wearing a suit or shaving is the same as wearing make-up, then you are a very silly man.

It's part of the dress code, she probably already knew about this prior to signing the contract. If she didn't want to have to wear make up then she should have looked for another job.

EDIT: Not everyone else had to wear it? Well then disregard this I suppose.
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#28
Quote by due 07
If you think wearing a suit or shaving is the same as wearing make-up, then you are a very silly man.

Alright, I admit, it really isn't the same.


But why didn't she just wear the makeup if she wanted to keep her job?
#29
Quote by due 07
Not everyone else has to wear make-up.

Somebody already mentioned that all the women had to wear make up.
pinga
#30
Quote by Cb4rabid
Somebody already mentioned that all the women had to wear make up.
Do only women work at Harrods?

Quote by Baby Joel
But why didn't she just wear the makeup if she wanted to keep her job?
She has principles. She willingly resigned.
#31
Quote by Baby Joel
Yeah, it didn't affect her performance at all, and I really doubt that people cared, but it's a contract that she agreed to, and broke. It's a stupid contract, but it's there.
That whole store is stupid, but it's there.

If she didn't wear make up for so long then it's perfectly reasonable to suggest that as a result of time-lapse the contracts terms should have naturally changed. This occurs with almost every other type of contract.

Employees shouldn't be burdened with the stupidity of their employers. It's ridiculous that with all the studies that have accumulated over the last four-five decades showing the benefits of flexible management that most businesses insist on maintaining draconian practices. Letting this sort of thing happen just reinforces poor HR and operations management.
Quote by Vornik
Thanks for the advice. I'm going to put it, along with your other advice, into a book, the pages of which I will then use to wipe my ass.
#32
Quote by due 07
Do only women work at Harrods?

She has principles. She willingly resigned.

Do men wear foundation, base, eyeliner, whatever?
pinga
#33
Alright, here's the last thing I'm going to say, because I don't think I can say it any clearer.

Harrods is a prestigious store. To work there, you must look prestigious. Makeup allows women to look prestigious. Perhaps Harrods wanted to make a strict rule so they wouldn't have to do beauty checks (which would probably cause an even larger THAT'S SO SEXIST backlash), or maybe they just think all women should wear makeup. Regardless, it's the rule. You follow it and work there, or you don't, and you don't work there. Harrod's is part of a society that I really doubt anyone on the forum is a part of. None of us really understand it.

But speaking as someone who has actually been there (I'm going to go ahead and guess that none of you have), this rule makes total sense.


EDIT: And I really wouldn't be surprised if a fair amount of the men who work there do wear makeup.
Last edited by Baby Joel at Jul 9, 2011,
#34
Quote by Cb4rabid
Somebody already mentioned that all the women had to wear make up.


I think the implication was men don't have to wear make-up.
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that'd be slightly creepy if i didn't find it so amusing.
#35
Quote by abdulalhazred
I think the implication was men don't have to wear make-up.

Well duh
pinga
#37
Quote by Cb4rabid
Maybe she slipped through the cracks, yes, but it's stil in the contract (I assume).

if she doesn't want to wear makeup, she shouldn't have applied. Believe me, i know it sucks and I think it's a stupid rule but it's fair.

Contracts change over the passage of time, and changes in practices and customs. Though it isn't necessarily included in the contract, because contracts can't account for every possibility, new terms and conditions become implied through differing actions that are allowed to occur.

She applied. She worked without makeup for five years, and was considered a very good employee. The only problem is senior management who have the collective intelligence of a brick.

I think it's also ridiculous to talk about enforcing contracts in regards to what employees wear when employers frequently violate their own contracts in regards to working conditions and not paying for overtime (in the UK this year there was 29 billion pounds worth of unpaid overtime done by employees).
Quote by Vornik
Thanks for the advice. I'm going to put it, along with your other advice, into a book, the pages of which I will then use to wipe my ass.
#38
This is not merely enforcing a dress code. They are coercing her to use sexual attraction as a means to attract customers and sell their product. That's all it is. The function of make-up is to accentuate or create the illusion of traits desirable to a sexual mate. Obviously she isn't comfortable doing that in the workplace and the fact she's been there so long shows that she doesn't need it to effectively do her job. The store is literally trying to use her as a sex advert.
#39
Quote by due 07
If you think wearing a suit or shaving is the same as wearing make-up, then you are a very silly man.

What's the issue with comparing shaving to wearing makeup? Both are used to create more professional or socially acceptable facial features, and both take time out of ones day. Let me know if I'm missing something? I have to shave everyday for my job (forgot once and got in "trouble," was reminded that I need to be clean shaven), and I'd rather not take the time to but I do anyways because its required of my job. I value having the job more than the 15 minutes each morning during which I could have slept longer.
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#40
Quote by dann_blood
Contracts change over the passage of time, and changes in practices and customs. Though it isn't necessarily included in the contract, because contracts can't account for every possibility, new terms and conditions become implied through differing actions that are allowed to occur.

She applied. She worked without makeup for five years, and was considered a very good employee. The only problem is senior management who have the collective intelligence of a brick.

I think it's also ridiculous to talk about enforcing contracts in regards to what employees wear when employers frequently violate their own contracts in regards to working conditions and not paying for overtime (in the UK this year there was 29 billion pounds worth of unpaid overtime done by employees).

If the contract changed over time, she probably should've been notified of it and sign a renewal contract or something. I don't think contracts change out of the blue, because then it wouldn't be fair to any of the employees.

My thought is, there was probably some bigwig who was shopping there, saw this lone woman employee without makeup and thought it was absurd or something, told management, and that's what made them confront her about it. She probably didn't do anything wrong, but it was either a customer or even a co-worker who was upset that she didn't have to wear makeup.
pinga