Amplifier Capitol has since done a “a complete back-flip” on this policy.
Perth venue and nightclub, Amplifier Capitol, has faced backlash from its female employees after forcing staff members to adhere to a strict gendered dress code, which staff say objectifies the female workers. The backlash began after a post in a private Facebook group for Amplifier Capitol staff was made by duty manager, Artur Rafal. “To our amazing Bar Ladies, as we have been busy raising the dress code on our doors our focus is now shifting to bars”, stated Rafal.
“One thing that has slipped for a while is the tolerance of girls wearing the men’s uniform shirt while on bar – from next week I will be taking your men’s shirt back from you and replacing it with the ladies bar uniform shirt”, he continued. “This is compulsory”, finished Rafal. Director of Capitol Corp (which owns Amplifier Capitol), David Heaton, then ominously added a comment. “As a condition of your employment, the team member is required to wear the uniform,” said Heaton. “If you don’t feel comfortable in the uniform then you are welcome to find employment elsewhere,” he warned.
On Instagram, a staff member posted a comparison picture showing how low cut the new top would be compared with the old shirt. “The top they want me to wear vs the top I wear hmmm I wonder what the difference is …” she captioned.
Correction; January 21st, 10:07pm: two staff members quit the venue in disgust. One was not fired after raising concerns with management as an earlier version of this article had mentioned.
“Forcing our female staff members to wear low cut shirts that expose their cleavage while male staff members are not subject to such objectification is blatant sexism and is totally ludicrous,” said one staff member in the private Facebook group. “We receive enough sexual harassment as it is working in the night club industry and pushing such a ridiculous dress code puts your female employees in DANGER,” she added.
“This action, and the disregard of employees expressing their discomfort over the appointed women’s uniforms shows how little Capitol Corp values their female employees,” she said. “Surely there are alternatives to a more presentable uniform standard that doesn’t involve using our bodies as selling points,” said the staff member.
In this post, the venue’s security were also accused of making female staff members feel uncomfortable due to suggestive comments. “P.S: if you’re thinking to yourself ‘That’s why we have security – to kick out the creeps,’ The truth is, your security is part of the problem,” said the staff member. “STOP MAKING SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS TOWARDS OUR GIRLS. IT’S FUCKING GROSS, AND MAKES THEM UNCOMFORTABLE,” she finished.
By 7pm, January 21st, Heaton had backtracked on the policy. Posting in the Facebook group that due to concerns raised by the staff, the venue would do “a complete back-flip” and allow women to wear men’s shirts provided that they weren’t too baggy.
We have reached out to Amplifier Capitol for further comment about this matter.
[Update, 1:39pm, January 22nd]: However, on Tuesday, staff member Kahlia Hogan disputed the new uniforms revealed anything inappropriate.
“[…] the uniforms that were shown in the pictures in the article are old uniforms, and they have since been updated to more appropriate work attire,” said Hogan. “I received my work uniform as little as 3 weeks ago, and I have a females cut top, which reveals absolutely nothing inappropriate,” she said.
[Update, 2:21pm, January 22nd]: David Heaton has since released a Facebook statement on behalf of Amplifier Capitol, apologising for this new uniform policy and his comments made.
“I unreservedly apologise for the recent proposed female-only uniform changes at Amplifier Capitol – for the decision, my comments and the manner in which this has been handled. The team at Amplifier Capitol and I have been taking stock and reading the various comments and concerns from patrons and staff before publicly responding to the issue.
The proposed uniform change will not be enforced at the venue, in response to concerns and complaints made by staff. Under the current uniform policy, which has been in effect since 2017, there are two uniform options for staff: a men’s style t-shirt and a women’s style t-shirt. Some female staff opt to wear the women’s, while others prefer the men’s style. Our aim was for all female staff to wear the same women’s tee for uniformity’s sake; when we found this was not well-received, we took that feedback on board. Going forward, staff are free to continue to choose which fit option is most appropriate and comfortable for their own body, regardless of gender. The only stipulation from management’s end is that clothing is not so baggy that it poses a potential OH&S risk.
The proposed changes were made in poor judgement, without full consideration of the implications for our female staff. There was a lack of awareness and understanding of the ways in which these new uniforms may be viewed, and how staff may feel wearing them. Comments that female staff already face sexual harassment as part of working within the nightclub industry, and that these uniform changes would only exacerbate the issue, have resonated with us. We take the concerns uttered by all affected staff – and our many patrons – incredibly seriously. We care, respect and value our female staff deeply and wish to apologise to them directly for making them feel uncomfortable, disrespected or devalued by the proposed changes. Quite simply, we’re sorry.
It was wrong to comment that any staff uncomfortable with the changes should find employment elsewhere – this was a throwaway comment that I very much regret. I would like to make clear that no staff have been, or will be, fired in relation to the uniform issue. I also respect the decisions of those who have departed the venue of their own volition in relation to this matter.
It is of utmost importance to us that we both create and maintain safe and inclusive environments for staff and patrons of all genders, sexual orientations, religious beliefs and ethnic backgrounds – not only at Amplifier Capitol, but all venues managed by Capitol Corp. This event has highlighted the need for more sensitivity and understanding on our part regarding gender equality and we will make more considered decisions going forward. We see this as an opportunity to address larger issues of safety, comfort and equality within our venues and have learned a valuable, if not overdue, lesson.
If you have further comment or concerns in relation to this issue, please email us directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. We will take all feedback on board and are committed to making changes for the betterment of our staff and patrons, whom I am sincerely sorry we disappointed.”
Public reaction to the apology has been strong, with many comments critical of the uniform policy and Heaton’s apology. “The fact you were threatening to sack staff who didn’t comply shows you were very well aware of staff concerns regarding the uniform and your response was to get them to shut up about it and remove those who persisted with raising the problems they faced in the work place,” said Marcus Roberts.
Another commenter suggested the venue should apologise and offer jobs back to the staff who quit. “How about you contact the staff that resigned and apologise and sincerely ask them to come back to work?” said Yolanda Francis. “It’s not easy finding employment these days and people don’t just leave unless they feel really disrespected and have no other option,” she continued. “This is what a good employer who cares about their workers would do.”
One of the staff members who left the venue confirmed to us here at KYS that no apology or offer of employment had been made to either employee who quit. “They only apologised because of the backlash,” she said. “Not even an apology to me or the other girl […] or an apology to the staff in general,” she finished.
[Update, 10:54pm, January 22nd]: since this story broke, Stick To Your Guns and Terror have changed their Perth venue for their Australian tour together this month. Storm The Sky are now also looking for a venue change in Perth with their upcoming final tour, saying “ensuring our fans are in a safe environment is of huge importance”.