Receptionist at PwC fights back after being sent home for refusing to wear heels

A receptionist who was sent home on the first day of work in London for refusing to wear heels has started an online petition to make it illegal for companies to require women to wear high heels in the office.

Nicola Thorp claims that after walking into her first day last December at PricewaterhouseCooper's (PwC) London office wearing flats, she was told to go buy 2-to-4-inch heels. When she refused, she said, she was sent home without pay.

Thorp told the BBC that when she was asked to wear heels, she refused by saying that men do not have to wear heels to work and the policy was discriminatory.

"I said 'if you can give me a reason as to why wearing flats would impair me to do my job today, then fair enough,' but they couldn't," Thorp told BBC Radio London.

"I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said I just won't be able to do that in heels."

A PwC spokesperson told CNBC that the accountancy firm outsources its receptionists from a management firm, Portico, and does not implement a dress policy for them.

Following Thorp's petition, which has garnered over 70,000 signatures to date, Portico reviewed its dress code.

In an emailed statement to CNBC, Simon Pratt, managing director of Portico, said, "We are totally committed to being an inclusive and equal opportunities employer, actively embracing diversity and inclusion within all our policies and procedures. We are therefore making it very clear, that with immediate effect, all our female colleagues can wear plain flat shoes or plain court shoes as they prefer."

PwC responded to Portico's new policy, stating, "we are pleased that Portico has responded to our concerns and is updating its uniform policy with immediate effect. PwC places a great deal of emphasis on providing a progressive working environment for all of our people."