Wear Makeup or Leave, Harrods Tells Employee | Care2 Causes

For refusing to wear makeup, 24-year-old Melanie Stark, says she was “driven out” of her job as a sales assistant at the luxury Harrods department store in Britain. Stark had worked in the HMV department of Harrods for four years without wearing makeup; indeed, she had, says the Guardian, not worn makeup during her interview and had been rated as one of the best employees by her manager. But following a “floor walk” by senior managers last August, she was sent home for not wearing makeup.

Stark first worked part-time at Harrods for three years; after earning a masters in philosophy, religion and ethics from King’s College London, she worked full-time. She has legal grounds to sue Harrods under the Equality Act 2010, says Lawrence Davies, director of Equal Justice solicitors:

“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 Harrods dress code at her interview, and that the store had not sought to enforce it until that “shop walk” in August. The day after that, she was sent to work in a stockroom. Stark’s floor manager then told her she had the choice of wearing makeup or leaving, but she was at first able to return to work until June of this year, when a new floor manager informed staff that she had to be “made up.” Stark was transferred to another store but decided to resign as she felt it was “time to move on.”

The dress code for female employees of Harrods is, to put it lightly, quite exacting:

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 Stark refused to follow this, she was told she could “see what you look like with makeup” at a workshop. Says Stark:

“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.”

The dress code for male employees is quite barebones, notes the Guardian:

Slick, sophisticated and debonair”, male staff must apply deodorant, trim fingernails, avoid visible tattoos and refrain from growing mutton chops.

Mocking aside, the Harrods code is deeply sexist. It implies that a woman, however clean and presentable, can pass muster only in heavy makeup, and that anyone opting out is by default shabby and below par. The only sensible course of action, with both the Harrods mandate and its sales’ staff’s faces, is to take it all off and start again.

Debating about the dress code, and the insistence of female employees wearing makeup, at a department store might seem trivial. But it’s appalling to read about the store’s attempts to dictate and control the appearance of its workers — especially after tacitly allowing Stark to go without makeup for quite a few years — and the punishment meted out to those who don’t “look right.” Clearly Harrods has a long way to go before grasping the basic truth of “beauty in the eye of the beholder” and, until it does, it’s got a big clod of mud in its eye.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/wear-makeup-or-leave-harrods-tells-employee.html#ixzz1RKIilIyC

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