Muslim waitress: I was sacked for refusing to wear this revealing dress
A Muslim cocktail waitress has claimed she was sacked for refusing to wear a “sexually revealing” red dress for work.
Fata Lemes said she was pestered for sex by customers at Mayfair’s Rocket bar and restaurant.
Miss Lemes, 33, alleged bosses ran Rocket “like a sex club” and allowed clients to think waitresses “could be treated as prostitutes”.
The strawberry blonde told a tribunal that on only her second shift two guests told her they were looking for a blonde “for one or more nights”.
Miss Lemes, of Camden, initially wore loose-fitting black clothes, but a week into the job she was ordered to wear a tight bright red dress that had a plunging neckline and was open at the back.
(Article continues below this ad)Dress battle: fellow waitress Amanda Bjursten in the dress Miss Lemes refused to wear. Source: Evening Standard
She tried on the outfit and found it was “physically revealing and openly sexual”. She said it made her look like a sex club hostess.
Miss Lemes told Central London Employment Tribunal: “It was indecent. If you put this dress on, you might as well be naked. Everything finishes in the middle at the chest. It is open at the front and back. I did not want men looking at my body.
“I was brought up a Muslim, and am not used to wearing sexually attractive clothes.” She refused to wear it and claims she was immediately fired.
Miss Lemes, a Bosnian Muslim, is suing restaurant group Spring & Greene, which owns the Rocket chain, for sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
She is claiming £20,000 for injury to feelings and lost earnings.
Spring and Greene, which owns the Rocket chain of restaurants, denies her claim and says she resigned of her own accord. It describes the dress as a “summery staff uniform” that was chosen by two other waitresses. Amanda Bjursten, another waitress, modelled the dress at the tribunal hearing and said she felt “completely comfortable” wearing it.
Luca Scanu, the bar’s manager, denied the dress was meant to be “sexually inviting”. “If you have curves, it will show them, but I can see the curves of a woman’s body if she is wearing trousers.” The firm says the red colour was chosen not to indicate sexual availability but to match the colour scheme of the bar.
Lemes, a Bosnian Muslim who told the tribunal she has 14 years experience as a waitress, started working at the bar in May, earning £5.52 an hour, plus a share of tips and service charge.
She told the tribunal that on her second shift, “I was approached by two guests, explaining that they were looking for a blonde Scandinavian or Swedish girl for one or more nights. It was obvious that they thought that I was Scandinavian. I politely refused the offer.
“I was offended by that offer. I considered the company must be indicating to guests that the bar was the type of bar where they could make sexual offers to staff.”
Initially she wore a black linen skirt or trousers to work, but a week later, she says, she was told she had to wear a new uniform.
“Waitresses told me, looking worried, that the company had brought dresses for us to wear that they thought I would not like,” she said.
“It was a bright red dress that was clinging and revealing of the body. It was clearly designed to be attractive to men sexually.
“I was particularly concerned that clients, who already had made sexual proposals while I was wearing loose black clothing, would regard me as a sexual object or prostitute.”
She said the other waitresses at the bar felt under pressure, but that she informed Scanu she could not wear the dress, and was given one day’s notice.