Can employer make me wear leather sneakers? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 04-04-2009, 09:12 AM
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So I'm working at a new H store, different than the one I was working for and it is franchise not corporate. I went ahead and bought all man-made white sneakers as sneakers are a part of the uniform. These are like the first pair of shoes I've bought since going vegetarian because I wear my mother's second-hand shoes for the most part to save money.



When I show up for training, the trainer says we can only have one of two brand/style sneakers. I'm like, wth? I'm sure they both are leather.



She's like, "Trust me, girls, they will last forever."



So I come up to ask her personally if I can wear the shoes I purchased since I know they are sturdy and man-made. I tell her I'm vegetarian and I don't purchase leather.



She's from South Carolina and she has a very deep accent and is intimidatingly pretty (she's been working for H for five years and has done like 46 store openings). She looked at me like I had two heads. She narrowed her eyes at me and said, "So what if they're leather? You're not going to wear them? Is there going to be a problem?"



So I was so intimidated I changed my statement from, I won't wear to I'd really rather not.



Then she told me to bring in my shoes to see if she'd approve of them tomorrow.



My question is, can she force me to purchase leather sneakers? In the Manhattan store, it could be leather or faux, any style as long as it was completely white and no canvas or mesh.



I just started working and I can tell there's a boatload of money to be made there, so I don't want to cause any waves but I think the situation is a little absurd.
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#2 Old 04-04-2009, 09:49 AM
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First off, I highly doubt anyone is going to be looking at your shoes, lol. I don't see the big deal if your shoes aren't leather. White sneakers are white sneakers, doesn't matter what they're made of. "They will last forever"... if you're the one paying for them, who cares? She can't force you to purchase leather, however if the job is that important to you and that is what she wants, you have to decide for yourself if wearing leather on the job would be worth it. If it's worth it and you wear leather for you job to support yourself, I see no problem w/that... I think it's messed up of them to ask you to, but if you decide to I don't judge lol.
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#3 Old 04-04-2009, 10:06 AM
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You could have a problem, because she might be able to make you wear the leather, or cause your job to suffer in "unofficial" ways that you have no recourse to solve. I lost a job once for standing up for my vegan ways. It was the best thing that could have happened, as it led me to where I am now, but be aware that this is a possibility, especially if she takes a personal dislike to you. I was in a good position to lose that job, and I got financial compensation for wrongful firing too, but its not something I generally recommend as a wise career move!

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#4 Old 04-04-2009, 10:27 AM
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Someone told me to lie and claim it was for 'religious' reasons, but I couldn't fathom telling such an enormous lie.
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#5 Old 04-04-2009, 10:55 AM
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I don't know if you have any power here. Isn't part of your job title "model"? Because of that, you probably have to wear whatever they tell you to.



It's likely, though, that once she sees the shoes she'll think they're fine.
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#6 Old 04-04-2009, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by SomebodyElse View Post

I lost a job once for standing up for my vegan ways. [snip] I was in a good position to lose that job, and I got financial compensation for wrongful firing too, but its not something I generally recommend as a wise career move!



I'd really like to hear more about this.
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#7 Old 04-04-2009, 11:46 AM
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I certainly would not capitulate and wear leather. I'm not necessarily saying this is what you should do, too, sometimes I take the "stubborn" thing too far. Unless it is in your contract that wearing leather is part of your uniform I can't imagine they can legally do anything. Either way, don't back down. Do what you feel is right. Self esteem is worth way more than a "boatload" of money, any day.

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#8 Old 04-04-2009, 05:45 PM
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so why only these two brands? does she have a contract with them and make commision from selling you your trainers?



does corporate have a policy about this? do you even have a contract? what two brand and styles are they? why does how pretty she is matter?
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#9 Old 04-04-2009, 06:08 PM
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Everyone at my job wears Shoes for Crews and I wear Payless brand. I work at a burger place where our uniforms have to be perfect, but it's not a problem because I'm still within regulations (black, boot-style shoes, non-slip). Are the shoes you bought slip-free? If they try to terminate you or something, you can easily file a lawsuit and they know this. You have your beliefs, whether they be religious or not, and you shouldn't be forced to wear leather. I honestly have more respect for people who have personal beliefs that they figured out on their own than things they're just told to believe, common with religious people. I'm sure if you talked to your manager again, tell her the situation and assure her that the shoes are safe and look the same, you won't have an issue. Good luck! If I ever move out there, I expect for you to get me a job Love You, Girl!!
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#10 Old 04-04-2009, 06:52 PM
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Can you obtain permission from corporate to wear your faux shoes, since it's okay at other stores, and (I'm assuming) you've got a positive history with the company? If corporate gives you specific permission, usually the franchise people can't override their decision without getting in trouble.
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#11 Old 04-04-2009, 07:57 PM
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Don't go to corporate unless you have to, that will just cause problems with the manager you work with.
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#12 Old 04-04-2009, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by danakscully64 View Post

Don't go to corporate unless you have to, that will just cause problems with the manager you work with.



That's exactly what I was thinking.
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#13 Old 04-04-2009, 08:56 PM
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Can you obtain permission from corporate to wear your faux shoes, since it's okay at other stores, and (I'm assuming) you've got a positive history with the company? If corporate gives you specific permission, usually the franchise people can't override their decision without getting in trouble.



thats a great idea..good luck



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#14 Old 04-05-2009, 02:05 AM
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I actually had to wear leather once for work, it was necessary. But this was a state government job for the Department of Transportation. I checked the paperwork and it stated very clearly that I needed a pair of leather boots with nonskid soles. I asked my manager if I could wear a pair of boots made of man-made materials instead and the answer was absolutely no.



My only solace was that I didn't have to pay for the boots (the government paid for them) and I only had to wear them when I went out to the yard which was maybe once every other week. After I quit the job (for a million different reasons, one of which was the insane amount of unnecessary paper waste generated and not recycled) I got rid of the boots.



But anyway, unless there's something in your paperwork that states that the shoes have to be leather then no, it's just her preference and she can't make you. I would explain to her, when you bring them in, that this is something that you feel very strongly about and that you don't think that you'd be able to do your best while wearing an animal product. I know I was uncomfortable as hell wearing my boots even if it was only for 10 minutes.
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#15 Old 04-05-2009, 03:32 AM
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I seem to recall leather shoes were specifically stated as a requirement in restaurants when I worked in one many years ago in the US. There may be health and safety features of leather than are not recognized as existing in manmade materials (flame retardant and heat resistant, like what happens if hot grease is dumped on leather shoes as opposed to manmade fabrics). This could be a way they could 'get you'. But if you can counter with health safety requirements that are met by your manmade shoes you may win the battle.
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#16 Old 04-05-2009, 04:17 AM
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I certainly would not capitulate and wear leather. I'm not necessarily saying this is what you should do, too, sometimes I take the "stubborn" thing too far. Unless it is in your contract that wearing leather is part of your uniform I can't imagine they can legally do anything. Either way, don't back down. Do what you feel is right. Self esteem is worth way more than a "boatload" of money, any day.



^ i totally agree...no amount of money is worth going against what you believe in. could you honestly put in a full days work walking around in leather shoes? would you feel guilty the whole time? could you live with that? these are all questions that you need to ask yourself. we cannot tell you what to do, but only what we would do in your situation.



i would not lie about it being for religious reasons; however, you bring up a good point with that. if it is okay for someone to wear different shoes because of her religion, why not because of her vegan beliefs?? this is a form of discrimination imo. if your boss tells you that you need to wear the leather shoes, i would fight it. if veg*ns start backing down and bending their beliefs because of other's intolerance, we will never gain the respect we deserve.



you don't have to say, but where do you work?(i'm new to the forum so i apologize if you have already said in another post)



hang in there sweetie...i know this is a tough decision. i wish you the best.
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#17 Old 04-06-2009, 02:32 PM
 
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Someone told me to lie and claim it was for 'religious' reasons, but I couldn't fathom telling such an enormous lie.



I find it infuriating to no end that excuses based on religious beliefs are given more weight and respect than excuses given for any other reason. Granted, I am an atheist, but it seems unfair that saying you are declining for religious reasons should be any more effective or respected than just saying your decision is based on your own personal moral beliefs.
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#18 Old 04-06-2009, 07:16 PM
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I find it infuriating to no end that excuses based on religious beliefs are given more weight and respect than excuses given for any other reason. Granted, I am an atheist, but it seems unfair that saying you are declining for religious reasons should be any more effective or respected than just saying your decision is based on your own personal moral beliefs.



Especially since religious reasons are basically just that person's personal moral beliefs.

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#19 Old 04-06-2009, 07:17 PM
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If it's your personal moral belief to not wear animal skin, that is a religious belief - your personal religious belief. If it is important to you and you don't intend on doing it. If you are going to knuckle and do it anyway, it's best not to make the speech! I'm not saying doing one or the other, only you how strong you feel about it.
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#20 Old 04-06-2009, 07:27 PM
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Employers can require you to wear whatever is standard for the industry. Just ask the cocktail waitresses in Vegas; they have been fightng their uniform requirements for years and have gotten nowhere with it.



As for claiming that it is against your religion, that one is more difficult to prove in a court of law than most people realize.
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#21 Old 04-06-2009, 07:39 PM
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If it's your personal moral belief to not wear animal skin, that is a religious belief - your personal religious belief. If it is important to you and you don't intend on doing it. If you are going to knuckle and do it anyway, it's best not to make the speech! I'm not saying doing one or the other, only you how strong you feel about it.



um... yeah.. i don't think she could just invent a religion for herself, like hooteremployeewhodeosn'twearleatheratariansim or something like that. i'm pretty sure that the religious belif has to be linked to an actual religious group or pholiosphy that other people are members of that has like doctrine and legal religious status and stuff that predates the desire to not wear those shoes.



i'm thinking back to when loads of brits all listed their religion as 'jedi' in the national census, and the government said that doing that doesn't make it a real religion. cos it doesn't.
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#22 Old 04-06-2009, 10:48 PM
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I've worked in places that were pretty stupid about their uniform requirements. One nursing home required us to buy overpriced uniforms from a supplier they contracted with, when you could get much cheaper and identical-looking uniforms elsewhere. That wasn't the stupid part. The stupid part was they gave us a clothing allowance as well--as in, added to our paychecks. If they were smart and really wanted us to buy stuff from their supplier, they should have given us gift certificates or some form of credit that only worked with that supplier. I never bought anything from that supplier, and since I still fit within the dress code, my manager never said anything to me about it. Guess she had more important matters on her mind.



But I would expect that it's within an employer's legal rights to require employees to both buy and wear extremely specific clothing items.



I got the impression from the OP that she's working at a retail store, not a restaurant. I'm a little confused, because I thought Hooters was a restaurant. I'd expect one could argue the leather or non-leatherness of one's shoes makes no difference when one is a sales clerk in a retail store. It might matter in a restaurant because of the additional hazards.

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#23 Old 04-07-2009, 01:10 AM
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just buy a pair of vegan sneakers and wear them and dont make any announcements to bosses about it. its likely they wont even notice. its not like you need to wear a pair of steel caps to work and they only make them in leather or something. this is hooters for **** sake. most people are gonna be too busy checking out your boobs to be bothered looking at your shoes
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#24 Old 04-07-2009, 01:30 AM
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Maybe she ought to pin the shoes to her chest if she really wants to make an anti-leather statement.



Truth be told, I wouldn't put it past a hell-raising manager to make a huge issue out of the shoes. Customers may not care, but that doesn't mean the manager won't.

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#25 Old 04-07-2009, 09:00 AM
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Okay, update.



This is for Hoots I just avoid saying the full name of the restaurant as much as possible.



One of the pairs was a Sketchers pair that one of the girls was wearing and she told me herself they contained leather. The other I was not sure they contained leather, but I strongly suspected they did because they were told to me to be very expensive. They did not give us the exact style and and no.'s of these sneakers, just gave us very general directions like 'all-white' and '3/4 top', but those two brands. They said the store would help us find them.



FYI, I resolved the problem. I simply bought another pair of leather-less Payless shoes, this time something like a 3/4 top. I held my breath and held them up for inspection. They passed, but she looked slightly confused.



Also, Jen, when I mentioned the fact that she is 'intimidatingly pretty' it was about as useless as the fact that she has a deep Southern accent. The reason that I mentioned that is because those two put together equals a quintessential corporate H trainer. If you work at H, you are bowled over by those women (corporate trainers) and their ability to take charge of things, and command the attention of an entire room, particularly when they open their mouths, and I'm not even a newbie seeing I've worked at two separate locations now. They are intimidating with a capital 'I'.



Anyway, she seems pretty inordinately preoccupied with the fact that I'm vegetarian. She's loudly announced in several different ways to different people that I'm 'vegan', which I always correct her to say that I follow a vegan diet. She pulled me aside to ask me a) did I have a problem serving meat, b) if I would describe the meat dishes as 'gross' or 'disgusting' and I was pretty shocked by that. I've waited at places that weren't vegetarian after I stopped eating meat and no one took me aside to ask me how I would describe meat dishes. It was understood that of course I would be selling the food since I was a server. Well, I told her that since I worked at H before I went veg, I know what the food tastes like, and I would describe certain plates as more/most popular (like I've done before). She's like, well you should describe them as 'delicious'. Again, this is so bizarre to me, because I have served meat since I went vegetarian, and no one's said that I've had to describe meat dishes in a certain way. I am not describing meat as 'delicious', I can't fathom saying that to myself, let alone aloud.
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#26 Old 04-07-2009, 09:19 AM
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Tell people the food is delicious, but don't eat it, as it will make you fat and you must always be camera ready...Oh, the misogyny! I hate that these types of places even exist.

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#27 Old 04-07-2009, 09:21 AM
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Well I'm glad they exist so I can pay my bills. I've been struggling on and off since I left the other store.



Anyway, they encourage else to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly (which is something I really need to work on), and the image manual has pictures of salads.
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#28 Old 04-07-2009, 09:27 AM
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Well I'm glad they exist so I can pay my bills. I've been struggling on and off since I left the other store.



I *knew* that would be your response, and I almost left this on my post because of that: "At least you are able to make good money".



Seriously, though, they represent most of what I find reprehensible about our society and how young women are viewed, treated, the mixed messages, what is valued and what is scorned.

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#29 Old 04-07-2009, 09:30 AM
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I find myself to be a pretty sensible and morally grounded person. The main issue that I have with working at H again is serving flesh. It's funny to me this is considered much less of an issue than what I'm wearing for work.



As for this,



Quote:
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Seriously, though, they represent most of what I find reprehensible about our society and how young women are viewed, treated, the mixed messages, what is valued and what is scorned.



You can say the same thing about acting or modeling nowadays, but such is less scorned?
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#30 Old 04-07-2009, 09:33 AM
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I just read through this, it's a great thread!



I'm glad your shoe issue is sorted, but the food description, well, if you are in the service industry, keeping youe customers happy = better tips!

I'd go with whatever description you like as long as it's a positive one. Doesn't have to be directly discriptive of the food like 'extra juicy', go for 'best within 5 miles' customers like personality and they are the ones about to eat the stuff, they were going to order the ribs anyway, just looking for some engagement with you first!
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