Case 297 – Barefoot customer banned from supermarket


Enquirer had a swollen foot making it painful to wear footwear and was struggling to walk. The doctor recommended buying some frozen peas to help with the swelling. However, on their way home from Accident Emergency and entering a supermarket store without shoes on they were told by the security guard that they could not enter the store because ‘one, there’s food and two, it’s health and safety’. Enquirer questioned what exactly he meant but was told it was ‘just his job’.

Panel decision

There is no workplace Health and Safety legislation that would prevent a customer from entering a shop barefoot. The company are entitled to impose a dress code if they wish, however they should not use Health Safety as an excuse to do so.

It would have been helpful to everyone to use some common sense, explain the store’s policy to the customer clearly, and then offer to assist the customer, who was clearly in difficulty thereby enhancing the reputation of the company and individual.

The panel is not surprised that the customer was left hopping mad.

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