The “burn your bra” movement is back, this time ignited by young women shunning the undergarment not for political reasons, but in the name of comfort.
However, some braless women feel discomfort when managers mandate they must wear one in the workplace — a rule that could be deemed discriminatory because it only applies to one gender.
“It’s unnecessary,” said Kate Gosek who works as a cook at McDonald’s in Selkirk, Man. The 19-year-old says several managers recently harassed her about not wearing a bra, including one who prodded her shoulder in search of one.
“She just told me that I should put on a bra because, McDonald’s — we are a polite restaurant and no one needs to see that.”
Whether or not employers can mandate a woman’s undergarments is now the subject of a case before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. A hearing date has not been set yet.
It was prompted by a complaint from Christina Schell who claims her previous employer — the Osoyoos Golf Club in Osoyoos, B.C. — discriminated against her by requiring that female staff wear a bra.
“It’s gender-based and that’s why it’s a human rights issue,” she said. “I have nipples and so do the men.”
Schell discarded her bras more than two years ago because she finds them uncomfortable.
“They’re horrible,” said the 25-year-old who took a job as a server at the golf club’s restaurant in May.
She says she had no inkling being braless was an issue until a few weeks later when she received the restaurant’s new dress code. It stated: “Women must wear either a tank top or bra under their uniform shirt.”
Because she served tables at an outdoor patio in hot weather, Schell had no desire to wear an undershirt, either.
“It was absurd,” she said. “Why do you get to dictate what’s underneath my clothes?”
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