BUSINESS

End Sexualized Dress Codes At Work, Ontario Human Rights Commissions Urges

03/08/2016 11:31 EST | Updated 03/09/2017 05:12 EST
FREDERIC J. BROWN via Getty Images
A Hooters waitress serves customers at the opening of the US restaurant chain's first outlet in Beijing, 10 September 2007, and fourth overall in China. Hooters offers it customers a taste of the US with its signature combination of cold beer, chicken wings and waitresses in clingy shirts and orange high-cut shorts. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
TORONTO — The Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling for an end to sexualized dress codes that discriminate against female and transgender workers.

Chief commissioner Renu Mandhane says employers must make sure their dress codes don't reinforce sexist stereotypes.

Mandhane says policies requiring women to wear low-cut tops, short skirts or high heels could violate the Human Rights code, and they send a message than an employees' worth is tied to how they look.

In a policy position paper released today on gender-specific dress codes, the Commission said women should not be expected to dress in a sexualized way to attract clients.

Kathy Laird of the Human Rights Legal Support Centre says "excellent customer service doesn't have a cup size."

Laird encourages women to call her office for legal advice "if cleavage is deemed an essential skill in their workplace."

The Commission said unequal treatment is still a daily challenge for women at work.

"This treatment is often visible in bars, restaurants and other services that require women to dress in high heels, tight dresses, low-cut tops and short skirts," it said in a release.

"These dress codes persist across the restaurant industry, despite human rights decisions that have found them to be discriminatory. They may make employees more vulnerable to sexual harassment, contribute to discriminatory work environments and exclude people based on sex, gender identity...or creed."