EDITORIAL: No end to bra debate

EDITORIAL: No end to bra debate

Christina Schell is filing a human rights complaint after being told by Osoyoos Gold Club that she had to sign a dress code requiring women to wear a bra or tank top under their uniforms. Since there is no similar requirement for men, she says this rule is discriminatory under the B.C. Human Rights Code. The long-time hospitality worker, who's only been with Greenside Grill for three weeks, is now out of a job. (Richard McGuire photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

Last week’s story about the woman who refuses to wear a bra at work garnered a lot of thought-provoking feedback.

As you can imagine, some of it was quite hilarious, but it’s not amusing to Christina Schell.

Not surprisingly, the human rights angle is highly supported here by many people, while others are not convinced that the golf club’s dress code is discriminatory. (The code requires female employees to wear a bra or tank top under their uniforms, but Schell doesn’t want to, partly for health reasons.)

It’s ironic that, not too long ago, many women were complaining that some restaurants required or pressured them to wear revealing clothing or high heels to attract male clients. Now it’s illegal for employers to do this.

One could argue there is nothing wrong with businesses imposing the must-wear-a-bra rule. Depending on the circumstances, having “loose boobs” could be offensive to clientele or distracting to fellow staff members. Shouldn’t employers have a right to set a dress code that garners respect for everyone?

On the other hand, there’s also the discrimination argument (the human rights code prevents discrimination on the basis of gender). Schell is the only one being adversely treated here, unless you throw in that restaurant guests are being adversely treated by Schell not wearing a bra.

This is one of these damned if you do, damned if you don’t issues. If you argue either way, you’re damned by someone.

If you’re offended, don’t look (but it’s hard not to because your brain is saying there’s a woman over there not wearing a bra).

One might think that an employer would amend the dress code to take into account the health reasons, but the story did not indicate whether Schell had a “medical” reason signed by a doctor.

But if you really want to play the equality card, why doesn’t the golf club’s dress code require men to wear tank tops under their uniforms? Because men don’t have boobs? Really? Some do.

You see, this argument could go on forever.

Schell obviously feels very strongly about this and wants to make a point, while many women would have moved on without making a scene.

Perhaps we need to stop judging everyone, including employers who feel a dress code is required to operate a business the way they see fit.


  1. I am exhausted with all of these folks who claim to be victims of some sort of abuse or other. Wear what your employer deems to be socially acceptable, show up on time or go find another job; say mud wrestling.
    Michael Guthrie

  2. Additionally, I think I will take a job at a local eatery, show up wearing a skin tight speedo bikini bottom and nothing else. Now as a 63 year old, slightly over weight male this should startle anyone. However, no more ridiculous than what this gal is claiming to be dehumanizing. I too am therefore in a position for a human rights claim…….

  3. way I see it, is that she is being petty, it clearly stated on the form that she had two options. Tank top OR a bra.
    This is ridiculous, she lost a perfectly good job because she wouldnt/couldn’t wear a bra for medical reasons. Fine, then wear the tank top, I don’t see why this has become a huge issue involving rights and the like.

    Why is this still an issue, if no other employees have stepped forward about there clothing options then why keep giving this the time of day. People have quite or lost jobs or far worse and it never sees media coverage. I’m one of them. But that’s long gone, and not worth the effort.

    Just my thoughts.

    Apologies if I’ve offended anyone by it.