A Facebook photo of a waitress' seemingly bloody feet is sending a message about the way that women in the service industry are treated.
Nicola Gavins of Edmonton, Alberta published her server friend's photo on May 3. She says the photo depicts the aftermath of a shift at a Joey Restaurants location, during which the friend was expected to wear high heels, despite her better judgement.
"Their policy is still that female staff wear heels unless medically restricted, my friends feet were bleeding to the point she lost a toe nail and she was still discouraged and berated by the shift manager for changing into flats (specifically told that heels would be required on her next shift the following day)," Gavins wrote in the post.
Gavins, a freelance makeup artist, posted the photo and message to her own Facebook page to keep the identity of her friend a secret. But Joey Restaurants' alleged footwear policy wasn't the only concern of note.
"In addition, the female staff have to purchase a uniform/dress at the cost of 30$ while male staff can dress themselves in black clothing from their own closets (and are not required to wear heels)," she wrote.
In March, CBC Marketplace investigated gender-specific dress codes at several Canadian restaurant chains, including Joey.
"The dress is so tight that you can see your underwear through it," one Joey employee told CBC.
In response to the report, male employees at Ottawa's Union Local 613 showed their solidarity with their female co-workers by wearing skirts during a shift in March.
Joey Restaurant Group Communications Director Sasha Perrin addressed the viral Facebook photo in a statement emailed to A Plus that suggested the waitress' experience may have been the result of internal miscommunication.
Joey's footwear guidelines, she said, require a black dress shoe with a thick sole, not towering heels.
We were upset to see this post and reached out to connect with the employee right away. Our employees' feedback is extremely important to us, so we wanted to hear directly from her about her experience. After speaking with her, we followed up with our management team and employees to ensure everyone has the correct information and training materials around our policies and guidelines... The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees are of the utmost importance to us.
The statement appears to conflict with a photo Gavins said she took of a Joey Restaurant "training manual" that required at least a one-inch heel.
A Plus reached out to Nicola Gavins for a comment on her Facebook post.