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Bar Shows its Ugly Side: Why Employers Need to Choose Their Words Carefully When Advertising for Staff

A London bar has landed itself in hot water with equality campaigners after allegedly posting a job advertisement seeking ‘extremely attractive’ waiting staff and female applicants who were ‘comfortable wearing heels.’

Whether genuine or a publicity stunt, it’s got people talking after Corrie actress Nicola Thorp took to Twitter to criticise recruiters Reed, who promptly took it down.

The former receptionist, who hit the headlines last year after claiming she was sent home from work for refusing to wear heels, tweeted ‘Hey @reedcouk, just checking you’re aware that this job ad is in breach of an Equality Act or two?’

The Equality Act 2010 makes it an offence to discriminate against anyone on the grounds of protected characteristics, which include sex, age, race, religion, disability, pregnancy and maternity.

Employers aren’t allowed to state in job adverts that they will discriminate against anyone because of a protected characteristic. They are also prevented from asking questions about protected characteristics in job interviews, although asking questions about health or disability may be necessary in some situations.

If an applicant could prove that they were turned down on any of these grounds then they could potentially bring a case for discrimination.

If an applicant could prove that they were turned down on any of these grounds then they could potentially bring a case for discrimination. For example, the requirement for heels strongly suggests that the recruiter is seeking female, rather than male candidates. This may also discriminate against pregnant women, or the disabled, in circumstances where they can’t wear heels because of their pregnancy or disability.

The Act doesn’t cover whether someone can be discriminated against for not being ‘attractive’ enough, but if that person can prove they didn’t tick that box because of pregnancy, a disability or skin colour, for example, that could constitute discrimination too.


It is disappointing that the inappropriate language used in this advert and inevitably others like it will probably put a lot of people off applying who may possess the right skills, but can’t wear heels or don’t consider themselves ‘attractive’ enough.  

Let’s hope that the headlines around this and the understandable outrage that followed on social media will prompt employers like this one to join us in the 21st century and take a different and less offensive approach with their advertising when looking for future staff.

For a consultation with an employment law specialist, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.

James Watkins is an employment lawyer with Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cardiff.

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