A TEENAGE waitress who was told to wear a skirt and make-up so she would be “easy on the eye” for customers has won her claim for sex discrimination.

Erin Sandilands, 18, was taken aside by a manager at Cecchini’s bistro in Ardrossan, Ayrshire, and told to look more feminine “for the punters”.

After she complained, the student – who was working under a zero hours contract – was later told that her services were no longer needed, despite having previously been offered a full-time position.

But after taking the business to an industrial tribunal, she has been awarded more than £3,500 for the injury to her feelings and lost wages after employment judge Claire McManus found her evidence to be “entirely credible.”

Ms Sandilands, of West Kilbride, said: “I’m delighted with the result of the tribunal. I did not think that it would be that successful. I was quite reluctant to go to a tribunal, because I had never done anything like that before.

“I would just like people to know what sort of business they are. It’s not an establishment I’d like other girls to work at.”

The tribunal heard that Ms Sandilands began working at the restaurant in September last year, and was initially told that the staff dress code was black trousers or a skirt, and a black shirt.

But a month later her manager approached her in a narrow hallway and asked her to start wearing a skirt and to wear her hair down, along with make-up, to make her more attractive to customers.

She asked what difference her appearance made to her duties, pointing out that as she was handling food it made more sense to tie her hair back.

The student did not receive a reply, but received a phone call the next day to be told that she would not be offered more shifts, even though the restaurant was heading into a busy period and had hired a new member of staff.

Ms Sandilands' friend, who also worked there and who gave evidence on her behalf, had also recently had her hours increased.

The teenager said she initially decided to let the matter rest, but later changed her mind and launched her legal fight on the advice of her partner’s father, an employment lawyer.

She said: “When it happened it was completely unnecessary. I was dressed smartly and was wearing the uniform as it had been described to me.

“They said I should wear a skirt and make-up and put my hair up and be more feminine. They said that the punters would like that. I felt utterly humiliated and upset."

“I argued that I was dressed smartly, but the very next day I found out I wouldn’t be getting any more shifts. It made me very angry.”

In her written judgement, tribunal judge Ms McManus found that the manager’s comments amounted to discrimination towards Ms Sandilands because she was female, as he would not have made them to a male employee.

The judgement also found that his conduct amounted to harassment as it contributed to a “degrading and humiliating” working environment, and awarded the 18-year-old £2,500 in compensation for the injury to her feelings and £1,060 in lost wages.

However, Ms Sandilands is still waiting for the compensation to be paid, and intends to pursue the case in the Sheriff Court if she does not receive the award.

She also said the episode had shaken her confidence and she now feels uneasy if she does not wear a skirt or make-up to her new job.

Anthony Cecchini, owner of the restaurant, said: “The allegations [made in the tribunal] are untrue, and we intend to appeal this decision.”