Casinos praised for relaxing high heel requirement

RENO, Nev. - A statewide drive to give cocktail waitresses the right to choose whether to wear high heels has been branded a success so far by organizers.

Tom Stoneburner, director of the Alliance for Workers' Rights, said many Nevada casinos have either dropped mandatory high heel rules or chosen not to enforce them since the ''Kiss My Foot'' campaign kicked off in May.

Because of the response, his Reno-based group has backed off its threat to push for state legislation next year to ban two-inch heels.

''All over the state we're seeing executives reassess their position,'' Stoneburner said. ''We're very pleased and happy with what we've accomplished. We think we're making headway.''

The group maintains appearance doesn't justify the health risks the shoes pose. It says two-inch heels can cause serious foot and back injuries, and cocktail servers should at least be allowed to wear safer one-inch heels.

Alan Feldman, spokesman for MGM Mirage, questioned the need for the anti-heel campaign.

He said the gambling industry enjoys good labor relations and is capable of addressing any concerns on its own.

''This is hardly something that requires major protest and major aggravation on anybody's part,'' he said. ''This is about good communication with employees.

''I don't think the Legislature is the appropriate place to deal with these uniform standards. This should be the sort of thing that employees and employers can work out.''

But Stoneburner said it took the campaign to bring the issue to the forefront and get casinos to rethink their high heel policies.

Most Nevada casinos required heels before the campaign, and a survey is under way to determine how many still do, he said. Results will be released sometime after Jan. 1.

''We think casino dress standards are outdated in many instances,'' he said. ''We want women to become valued employees rather than sexual lures used to bring people into casinos.

''But our position is you can't legislate respect for employees. It has to be done through education. The industry will have to change itself and change its relationship to employees.''


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