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Bier Markt backs down on skimpy wear for female staff

By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - In a change of wardrobe, short skirts at Bier Markt have been dumped for jeans, Converse sneakers and a button-down shirt after some female employees complained of being objectified for wearing the company’s skimpy uniform.

Tierney Angus, a three-year server at a west-end Bier Markt, told the CBC that effective Oct. 5, the company required female staffers to wear a tight-fitting, short dress. Meanwhile, male employees wore jeans, a button-down shirt and runners.

“My boyfriend said he could see my tailbone through it,” she told the media outlet. More than 40 women from four different locations complained to the parent company, Cara Operations Ltd.

Prior to that, female employees had the option of wearing black pants and a golf shirt. The skimpy dress cost $70 and a server belt was $20 — money deducted from their paycheques.

The skimpy test uniforms were given to bartenders to wear over a two-week period and the majority of feedback “has been very positive,” said spokesman Cathy Cowan, adding there was also an option to wear a longer-length dress.

“Based on continuing feedback from a few employees, we have now made the male uniform option a unisex option available to female staff as well,” she said. Staff can get a refund for the dresses.

Angus had retained Toronto employment lawyer Barbara Green of Robins Appleby LLP.

“On dress codes, the (Human Rights) Commission says it’s discrimination based on sex to make employees wear high heels, short skirts and tight tops. Don’t subject female employees to more difficult requirements than male employees and don’t expect them to dress provocatively to address clients,” Green said.

Other eateries such as Hooters and Tilted Kilt continue to have their female employees wear revealing uniforms.

“It’s part of our brand. It comes from the States. They have be costume-ready,” JP Sera, manager of the Tilted Kilt on The Esplanade, said. “The girls have to be classy, but at the same time, looking good.”