What footwear do you wear to work?
Probably, if you are required to wear a specific type of footwear to work, it’s mostly because of safety. Or, maybe your profession requires best support and comfort, like a basketball player. Or maybe it’s just plain practicality – bowling shoes for bowlers, cleats for baseball players, logging boots for loggers – dress shoes for office jobs – and on and on….

But is their any job that requires shoes that abuse the workers feet? Yup – at the casino!

For years and years,, even going back to pre-American European casinos, women  wore high heels to serve beverages to casino visitors. You know what they say – “sexiness sells.” Sometimes the skimpier outfits, the better the tips. (or so we are to believe.) But haven’t we evolved past that? I mean, do we really go to a casino to watch the waitresses in skimpy outfits and two-inch heels? Really?

Well, this edition of Foxwoods Fridays takes a little detour to look deep into the “soles” of those endearing employees we depend on for our libation – the female beverage servers.

Waitresses (can I say waitresses still?) negotiating their first union contract at Foxwoods Resort Casino have made the heels an issue. They are painful and, over time, foot-deforming. The casino yielded on a recently imposed requirement for 2-inch heels, but it is insisting that servers wear polishable black shoes, subject to approval by management, according to union representative Keri Hoehne and members. Servers could be exempted with a doctor’s note for up to a year, but would then have to resign or take another position. Some regard the requirement as a sneaky effort to get rid of older employees.

Cheryl Haase has been serving cocktails for more than two decades, and the 52-year-old waitress says she has a list of foot ailments to prove it. The miles she has walked carrying trays of drinks through the Foxwoods Resort Casino in high heels have sent her over the years to chiropractors and podiatrists for injections to treat inflammation. “Most of us girls have been here for 20 years, 15 years. This job has really done a number on our feet and they know it,” Haase said.

“A 2-inch heel is bio-mechanically and structurally wonderful compared to a 4-inch heel,” said Dr. Eric Levine, a podiatrist in Norwich. “Still, heels take their toll, especially as women age.” (A high heel at a party now and then is OK, according to Levine.) Levine added “I’ll never forget when I heard a patient say, ‘No matter how much my feet hurt, the higher the heel, the higher the tip.'” As I said, sexiness sells!

But with the decline in patronage and revenue, waitresses have seen a big decline in tips. It’s a high price to pay to forfeit fashion for comfort. These financial troubles have resulted in layoffs and pay cuts, facts that justify older waitresses’ worries that the dress code restrictions are designed to force them out in favor of newer, younger employees who haven’t yet experienced the downfalls of years of wearing heels to work.

So, maybe it’s time to evolve once again. A safe, comfortable, happy employee would probably translate into less sick time, better and faster interaction with patrons, and more revenue from happy, thirsty visitors!

Dear Foxwoods, it’s time to side with safety over maintaining the outdated waitress image of Vegas days gone by. It’s time to evolve, or maybe just respect your longtime employees health?  I bet they know more patrons on a first name basis than your pit bosses will ever know.  Give ’em a break!

That’s all for now.

Binbin

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