Women to rally in Reno against casinos' high-heel policy

RENO - Supporters of a statewide drive to give cocktail waitresses the right to choose whether to wear high heels at work will rally here Monday.

The Nevada Empowered Women's Project and Alliance for Worker's Rights are staging the downtown rally to force Nevada casinos to end a mandatory high heel policy.

Campaign coordinator Kricket Martinez said appearance doesn't justify the health risks the shoes pose to women, and a similar rally would be held in Las Vegas sometime in the next month.

''The point we're trying to get across is women deserve a choice rather than being told they have to wear a two-inch heel,'' said Martinez, a Reno cocktail waitress.

''It's also a discrimination in the workplace issue. You don't see men running around in high heels at casinos.''

The rally, set to begin at 11 a.m. Monday at the Riverwalk, marks the start of the groups' so-called Kiss My Foot Campaign.

Members of 18 groups, including the Nevada Federation of Business Women, Reno-Sparks branch of the NAACP and Nevada State AFL-CIO, are expected to participate at the rally.

Supporters say two-inch heels can cause serious foot and back injuries, and casinos should allow cocktail servers to at least wear safer one-inch heels.

If resort executives ignore their pleas, the groups will push for state legislation banning the two-inch heels, Martinez said.

''At this time, we're hoping casinos will voluntarily drop it,'' she said. ''But if they don't, then we'll go to step two (legislation).''

Some resorts such as Fitzgeralds Casino & Hotel in Reno have done away with any heel requirements.

But most Nevada casinos still require cocktail waitresses to wear the two-inch heels because they think women look sexier in them, Martinez said.

''Women may look better in them to men, but the heels don't really improve efficiency,'' she said. ''If your feet hurt, you can't be smiling and friendly to customers.''

Representatives of the Nevada Resort Association have said they think the anti-heel campaign is much to do about nothing.

They note the vast majority of cocktail waitresses on the Las Vegas Strip are represented by the Culinary Union.

''I've been involved in negotiations since 1973,'' association lobbyist Bob Ostrovsky said. ''Quite frankly, I don't ever recall the union bringing forward a proposal to limit this shoe style.''

The results of a statewide survey of cocktail waitresses and medical professionals about high heels will be released at the rally.

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