“Smart Women, Stupid Shoes, and Cynical Employers,” Marc Linder

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In this article, originally published in the Journal of Corporation Law in 1997, Marc Linder analyzes the discrepancy in professional footwear between genders, paying particular attention to the apparel expectations of flight attendants. He writes:


This article raises a critical but curiously neglected medical and legal issue for working women: do they have the right to wear whatever shoes are best for their health at work? No published clinical studies yet have focused on the subset of foot problems caused by dress-code policies that employers discriminatorily impose as conditions of employment on female employees. Even a podiatrist who thinks that because high-heeled shoes have “‘no redeeming qualities . . . it almost seems like the shoe industry is in cahoots with medicine to keep these things around,’” fails to include employers in this sadistic cabal.

Linder includes a retrospective look on the evolution of high heels in professional society, the restrictive nature of these shoes and the employers who prescribe them, and attempts to understand the legal rights of the women who wear them.

Marc Linder. “Smart Women, Stupid Shoes, and Cynical Employers: The Unlawfulness and Adverse Health Consequences of Sexually Discriminatory Workplace Footwear Requirements for Female Employees.” 22 Journal of Corporation Law 295 (1997), 35 pages.