Nurses don’t have to wear skirts, court says

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NURSES at a private clinic in Cadiz should not be obliged to wear skirts, ruled the Supreme Court. This reversed an earlier High Court ruling after nurses from the San Rafael private clinic complained of discrimination. Unlike male nurses or female operating theatre nurses, they had to wear skirts, aprons and caps, they said, and were penalised if they did not observe the dress code.

The High Court found in favour of the clinic, saying it did not detect discrimination in the regulations and defended a company’s right to impose uniform.

“It was a blow, but we always thought that they’d say we were right.  And if they didn’t we believed our fight would at least help those in the future,” said nurse Adela Sastre.

The wait was shorter than she and her companions, who want scrubs on health and hygiene grounds as well as equality, feared.

Imposing skirts was discriminatory, not objective and belonged to other times, ruled the Supreme Court, quoting Article 14 of the Spanish Constitution which declares that all Spaniards are equal.

Nevertheless, skirts are dress uniform for female members of Spain’s armed forces with trousers a requisite when they are armed.  Otherwise, the choice is theirs, said the Defence ministry.

Women members of the Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil wear trousers at all times although they can wear a skirt for dress uniform if preferred.

But discrimination cuts both ways and some male employees – in banks for instance – complain of bias.  “Their female colleagues can wear what they like, but they have to wear suits and ties,” pointed out Almudena Fontecha, Equality spokeswoman for the trade union, UGT.

“It’s something we should start thinking about,” she said.

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