Connecticut Casino Waitresses Fight Shoe Rules, Push For Freedom To Wear Comfortable Shoes

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June 10, 2013 9:31 PM EST

A union representing cocktail waitresses is fighting the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., for the right to wear shoes of their own choosing.

The waitresses complain that wearing high heels for long hours has resulted in health issues requiring frequent visits to chiropractors and podiatrists to treat inflammation.

A good number of these waitresses have worked in the casino since it opened in 1992, and they believe that the policy making it mandatory to wear high heels is a bid to push the older staff out and make way for younger workers.

"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," Cheryl Haase, a 52-year-old waitress told Associated Press.

Foxwoods recently gave up on a policy insisting that waitresses wear two-inch heels, but the casino still wants its servers to wear polishable black shoes, subject to approval by management, according to union members cited by AP.

Waitresses could be exempt from this policy for about a year if they produce a doctor’s certificate. But the pitfall of the deal, union members said, is that they would have to resign or take up another position.

According to the AP report, the high-heels rule is one among the many issues set for arbitration between the casino, a property in Connecticut owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, and Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents about 365 Foxwoods workers including 200 beverage servers.

Dale Wolbrink, a Foxwoods spokeswoman, told the agency that she would not comment on labor negotiations as they are considered private. 

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