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Responses to the inquiry

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Overall, the response from the companies contacted was positive. Most were aware of concerns relating to sexualized and gender-specific dress codes, and several said they had already changed dress codes, or were making amendments when they received the OHRC’s letter. Over several months, the OHRC provided updates and feedback to all of the restaurants contacted, and engaged in dialogue to help organizations identify and address issues of concern.

In general, companies expressed positive views about addressing dress code, sexual harassment and gender-related issues, mentioning:

  • The need to increase gender equality in the food service industry
  • The importance of making dress code changes, for fairness, morale and business reasons
  • The need to address sexual harassment and other human rights concerns in the workplace
  • Support for the OHRC’s Policy position and/or the inquiry.

All provided documents showing they developed new policies or had amended dress code and/or grooming policies in some or all of their brands.

Overall, restaurant companies were quite engaged: they sought feedback, took part in productive discussion, and made additional changes in response to OHRC input, to ensure their dress codes are more equitable and inclusive.

Several companies, including Cara, Earls, JOEY, Moxie’s, Pegasus, Shoeless Joe’s and Urban Dining Group, provided some or most of the requested information, but have not addressed all the concerns outlined by the OHRC in its inquiry letter.  

  • Urban Dining Group has provided some materials relating to Amsterdam Brewhouse and Hey Lucy, but has not provided the dress code for its Gabby’s brand, or responded to recommendations about its complaint and accommodation processes.

The other companies made positive amendments to policies and addressed most issues; however, some concerns remain.

  • Pegasus has developed new policies, but it had not implemented them at the time of this report, and did not respond to follow-up questions or the OHRC’s request for information as to how and by what date the policies would be implemented and communicated with employees
  • Cara had not yet implemented its new policies for its Landing Group brand restaurants at the time of this report, and did not provide an implementation date. In the meantime, it has instructed the restaurants that women staff are not required to wear dresses, and must be given the option to wear pants and shirt
  • Moxies and Shoeless Joe’s have not amended requirements that employees must wear their hair down
  • Shoeless Joe’s has not provided information showing that it has developed and communicated a process for handling accommodation requests relating to the dress code
  • Earls has not provided information to establish that it has developed and communicated a policy to ensure that applicants/interviewees will not be required to state their uniform preference before being hired
  • JOEY states that it is “working to finalize” and implement new uniform options, but has not provided a projected timeline or further information. In the meantime, it has instructed locations to allow a pants option.

Any company whose policies do not meet the measures on the checklist may be vulnerable to human rights complaints. Companies can use the resources provided by the OHRC to help them make sure that their policies do not discriminate under the Code (See Appendix D).

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