Some women object to having to wear heels in the workplace. Most employers have the right to set any dress code they want to, although there are some notable exceptions. Your small business can insist on professional attire, but make sure you do not run afoul of legitimate employee objections.

Ethnic Practices

You small business does not have to alter its requirements that a female employee wear heels even if it conflicts with her ethnic practices. However, your policy must not favor one group over another. If you allow a woman of one ethnic background to stop wearing heels while requiring all other women to wear them, you can be accused of showing favoritism to one ethnic group over another. The key is to be consistent with your policy.

Disabilities and Health Issues

You cannot require anyone to wear heels if such shoes would cause pain or discomfort due to a disability or health issue. Certain back conditions, hip deformations and foot problems can be aggravated by wearing heels. Make sure you do not demand any woman to wear heels who can prove she has a disability or health issue that can get worse from this type of shoe.

Business Casual

If you have a business casual workplace, or offer casual Fridays, define what you mean by “casual.” If you allow men to wear sneakers but women must wear heels in a casual environment, you could be accused of discrimination. The guideline is that you must treat everyone the same. If women claim that heels are formal attire and you require them while allowing men to wear informal shoes, you could be vulnerable to a discrimination claim.

Open-toe Shoes

Most employers who want to maintain a formal environment prohibit the wearing of open-toe high heels. This practice is legal as long as it applies to everyone. For example, if men wear sandals to the same office, women could make the case you are discriminating by disallowing open-toe high heels.