Waitress wins discrimination case after being fired for not wearing a skirt

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A waitress has won a discrimination case after being told to wear a skirt and make-up to work so she was more "easy on the eye" for customers.

Erin Sandilands, who's 18 and from West Kilbride, refused but was then told she wasn't getting any more shifts.

She's won £3,500 after a tribunal found that her workplace would have treated her differently if she was a man.

Erin has told Newsbeat she's "overwhelmed" with the result, but more women need to speak out about sexism.

image copyrightErin Sandilands

It happened at Cecchini's Bistro in Ardrossan, near Glasgow. Erin had been working there for just over two weeks when her boss took her aside.

She says he told her to wear her hair down, and put on a "full face of make-up" and a skirt so she'd be "easy on the eye" for customers.

The dress code at the bistro was simply that staff should wear all black.

"I wore trousers out of practicality," Erin told Newsbeat. "I wore minimal make-up, with my hair up - but I looked presentable.

"For him to then turn around and tell me he would rather I wore a skirt because that was more feminine, and he would rather I wore more make-up and my hair up because it looks better, I argued back that I don't really feel that I should have to.

image copyrightErin Sandilands

"As long as I look presentable, clean and tidy, and I do my job well, it shouldn't really matter whether I've got a skirt or trousers on, a full face of make-up or no make-up at all.

"I felt humiliated. It's hard enough as it is being a girl in this day and age, and conforming to stereotypes, without someone telling you that you're not feminine enough."

She told us that the next day her manager called and said they wouldn't be offering her any more shifts.

He said it was because the restaurant wasn't busy enough but that week they upped the hours of other staff, and hired a new waiter.

Erin is glad she won the case, but she knows she's not alone.

"I think it happens a lot more than people let on," she said.

"No-one bothers to bring it up. I wasn't going to bring it up to begin with. As much as I was upset by it, because I'm a young girl I didn't think anyone would take any notice.

image copyrightPA Wire
image captionArdrossan is a seaside town near Glasgow

"After he fired me I was really discouraged from looking for work for a long time. It was really degrading.

"I was scared about applying for jobs elsewhere, in case I had that reputation as the girl who wasn't feminine enough for a job."

Newsbeat contacted the restaurant but they said no-one was around to speak to us.

Owner Anthony Cecchini told the Ardrossan Herald that the claims are "untrue" and they "plan to appeal the decision".

According to employment lawyer Danielle Ayres, they're perfectly within their rights to do that.

"If the appeal is successful and the Tribunal overturn the decision she will have to pay the money back," Danielle told Newsbeat.

"Generally, though, some companies do hold back the payment if they are thinking of appealing."

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