A photo of a server’s bloody feet that is circulating around social media is not portraying the uniform policy of Joey Restaurants in a favorable light. Make-up artist Nicola Gavins, a resident of Alberta, Canada, posted a photo of her friend’s feet after working a shift where she was forced to wear high heels while doing her job. The photo shows in graphic detail that her feet are bloodied and blistered from the experience and that she also lost a toenail from the rigors of working in the high-heeled shoes.
According to Mashable, Gavins says that even when her injuries were brought to the attention of her manager, her friend was told that she would have to continue wearing the high-heeled pumps or she would lose her job. The specific Joey Restaurant in question is located on Jasper Avenue in Edmonton.
In her now widely circulated Facebook post, Gavins wrote that female servers have to wear heels unless medically restricted. To make matters worse, Gavins’ friend’s manager berated the server after she changed into flats during the shift despite the fact that he saw the toll that the shoes were taking on her feet.
The post also alleges that female staff at Joey have to purchase their own uniform/dresses at a cost of $30 while the male servers are allowed to just wear items of black clothing that they already own in addition to the fact that they aren’t forced to wear heels or uncomfortable footwear.
If the comments on Gavins’ Facebook post are any indication, the server’s bloody feet are stirring up a backlash against Joey for enforcing what many are claiming to be a sexist and antiquated policy. Some posters are even calling for locals to boycott the restaurant.
Gavins herself is passionately upset over what her friend had to endure and the lack of compassion shown by the Joey manager over her injuries.
“I have many friends in the service industry and know loads of ladies who earn great tips without having to sacrifice their comfort while serving. I’ll choose to continue supporting those establishments.”
On reaching out to Joey, a spokesperson for the restaurant chain told ATTN that the entire incident stemmed from a misinterpretation of company policy about uniform footwear.” According to her, the enforcement of the strict high heel policy was not valid as it was based on the manager’s misinterpretation of the policy.
Sasha Perrin, Joey’s communications manager, clarified the company’s position.
“There is no minimum height when it comes to our shoe policy. Shoes range from black dress flats, wedges and heels. For those employees wearing heels, we require the heel height to be no higher than 2.5′.
“What is clear from this incident is that, internally, there was a lack of communication and understanding around our guidelines.”
However, ATTN has published a screenshot pulled from Gavins’ Facebook page that shows what is alleged to be an excerpt from the Joey training manual that shows a minimum height heel requirement and specifically states, “Shoes are polished and womens’ shoes have a min. 1-inch heel max 3-inch.”
Gavins has also updated her Facebook page to allege that Joey has unpaid training shifts, a violation of Alberta labor laws unless the training takes place in a classroom setting. In her allegation, she included the anecdote of a woman who identified herself as a former Joey employee who said that she was not paid for her first few days of training and that she found the work environment to be toxic.
Perrin also rebutted this allegation.
“In regards to our training pay and fees, we have always strictly followed provincial regulations regarding training pay. We do not charge a fee for uniforms. We do require a refundable deposit for serving related equipment from both male and female employees for serving related equipment. This deposit is not a fee and is repaid upon return of these items.”
Nicola Gavins is not impressed with Joey’s response, as she feels that there was no misunderstanding of the policy but that the restaurant quietly changed the policy after feeling the sting of the public’s response to her Facebook post, writes the Huffington Post. She was vocal about her suspicion on her Facebook page.
“Still waiting on Joey Restaurant to reply to my inquiries on when their policies were changed regarding footwear.
“They have consistently asked people to direct message them and haven’t answered anything in social media except to say they changed policy recently. How recently? 5 minutes after my post blew up? Will they claim that my friend chose to work in heels to avoid scrutiny?
“They’ve already claimed they sought her out when she contacted them.”
Gavins is hoping that the furor surrounding her friend’s work experience with Joey will effect positive change and increased fair labor practices for people who work in the service industry.
[Image via Twitter]