BC Human Rights Tribunal to Hear Case Against Shark Club

I read a thought-provoking letter to the editor in the Province newspaper earlier this week. The topic of the letter was the complaint that a group of young women have brought against the Richmond location of the Shark Club Bar & Grill around the type of clothing that the women are required to wear.

The writer of the letter essentially said that the women knew what the work environment (and required clothing) was like before they applied or ever started working there so they should just quit complaining and accept it as part of the job that they had accepted.

Funny, I remember the same argument was made when there was talk about banning smoking in bars and restaurants. People said that workers chose to work in that environment and really should just shut up about it.

The fact of the matter in the smoking case is that WorkSafe BC is required to protect the health and safety of the workers in BC. Smoking and second-hand smoke cause illness so WorkSafe had to call for a ban on smoking in the workplace.

While requiring your employees to dress like whores is not a WorkSafe issue it is basis of the sexual discrimination complaint that has been started against Northland Properties Corporation (operator of the Shark Club). The BC Human Rights Tribunal will hear the complaint. It will be very interesting to see how this action proceeds.

What do you think? Do the people who choose to work in establishments that require them to dress or present themselves in particular ways forfeit their right to complain? We all know that when you walk into places like the Cactus Club, Shark Club or Sammy J Peppers that you are going to be greeted by a young female. Is it acceptable that they be required to dress in ultra short skirts and wear tops that reveal their breasts to the customers? Care to add your thoughts?


  1. Having worked in one of the mentioned establishments, and having worn the prescribed ‘uniform’ I think I can speak to this issue fairly intelligently… HA!

    The actual dress code is set out in a way that is ambiguous enough to keep the establishment out of trouble, but specifically enough that the managers can manipulate it to suit the more ‘sexy’ dress code they envision.

    Personally Im torn. Part of me knew that working there meant dressing a certain way, the other part of me is like who the F–K do you people think you are making me a sex object to sell your product.

    I think that if the dress code explicitly states that skirts must be short and cleavage is manditory… well then they need to be reprimanded. What a horrible way to treat anyone! That being said. if the dress code is (as I remember it) vague and the women dress that way when they have the option of dressing less provocatively (making that choice to dress ‘down’) then maybe they need to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask themselves why they dont value themselves more?

    I dunno. Its a pretty charged issue though. Ive been chatting about it with a few friends. It will be interesting to see how things shake down.

  2. I will say that between the requirement for “perky” in the chat-with-me department and the “other” department I mostly refuse to go to any of the above-mentioned establishments. I do not care to chat with the servers. Polite exchanges over the business at hand is EXCELLENT but a particular perky tone of voice asking me how my day is and trying to elicit particulars gives me the heebie jeebies. But I AM NOT THE TARGET AUDIENCE for these establishments.

    The problem with the dress code, of course, is that even if an employer cannot insist on provocative attire, it is hard to resist the pressure to do so – especially if the servers who show more cleavage get better tips.

    This is a societal issue of objectification rather than a misdemeanor on the part of the Shark Club, et al. Everyone likes to feel sexy (at least some of the time) but to be young and feel pressured to appear sexy while at work is wrong.

    However, if we believe this, we need to forgo the Sliders at Cactus Club, and help them wonder how to attract customers back.

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