Men telling women to wear make-up to work are committing sexual harassment

Woman putting on making

A waitress sued the high-end restaurant where she worked

Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 07/10/2023

- 15:26

Updated: 07/10/2023

- 15:30

A woman sued a restaurant after they told her to put on make-up to look less 'tired and unprofessional'

Telling a woman to put on make-up for work counts as sexual harassment, a tribunal judge has ruled.

Jahnayde Henry sued the high-end restaurant where she worked as a waitress, after her boss told her she needed to wear makeup for her next shift.

Her boss at the swanky Chinese restaurant said she looked “tired and unprofessional”.

The judge ruled that telling a female staff member to “improve” their appearance with makeup was a “sex-specific “comment and that a man would not have been told that.

\u200bThe interior of Tattu, the restaurant where Henry worked

The interior of Tattu, the restaurant where Henry worked


They said that the critique generated a “humiliating environment” for Henry.

Henry said her confidence was “undermined” after the curt remark from her deputy manager Joanna Huang.

The panel at the hearing heard that the “draconian” Huang was someone who “always wants 100 per cent”.

Tattu, the high-end Chinese restaurant where Henry and Huang both worked, was opened in 2022 and boasts impressive views of the London skyline.


When the restaurant first opened, Huang told Henry that her voice sounded “bland or boring” and suggested she “liven it up” in front of customers.

The following shift, Henry was told she wasn’t working effectively enough and needed to step it up if she wanted to keep her job.

On another shift, Henry was told by Huang to put on makeup to improve her appearance for customers.

The waitress quit the role after just five shifts.

The panel agreed that Huang had made these comments, even though she denied it.

Judge Glennie said: “Having found that Ms Huang made the comment alleged by [Ms Henry], we accepted that this was unwanted by her.

“We then considered whether this amounted to conduct related to sex.

\u200bWoman putting on makeup (stock)

Woman putting on makeup (stock)


“We concluded that saying that an individual looked ‘tired and unpresentable’ was not related to sex, as that could equally be said to a man.”

“In the tribunal’s judgement, saying that next time, the individual should wear some make-up, is a sex-specific comment, in that (although it is not unknown for men to wear make-up) it is not a comment that would ordinarily be made to a man.

“As to its effect, we found that [Ms Henry] perceived the comment as creating a humiliating environment for her, in that it meant that she should try to ‘improve’ her appearance with the use of make-up.

“We also found that it was reasonable that the comment had this effect: it would tend to undermine her self-esteem.”

Henry – who is black - tried to sue Tattu for race discrimination and harassment but was unsuccessful.

You may like