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A MANAGER at a lingerie store hated her “toxic” job so much she went back to being a sex worker.
The woman, referred to only as Emily (not her real name), moved to Sydney, Australia, after finishing high school and “fell into” sex work in order to pay the bills.
Although when she wanted a “socially acceptable career” she sought out a managing role at lingerie and sex toy label Honey Birdette in 2017.
But she claims she suffered a year of abuse, overwork, low wages and her mental health suffered.
Not willing to put up with the situation she returned to sex work where she was much happier and made much more money.
Emily told news.com.au: “It was just a very toxic work environment.
“I ended up becoming such a toxic horrible person because of the pressure put on me from above. It took a long time to be able to look at myself and feel happy with who I had become.”
She also claims she was left $2,000 out of pocket from having to have physiotherapy sessions due to wearing high heels for 38 hours a week.
In Honey Birdette’s workplace handbook, which employees are provided with, it requires staff to wear high heeled shoes during peak periods, and these should, ideally, be pointed black or patent stilettos.
Peak time is listed as 11am to close and 6pm to 9pm when trading late, largely the whole working day.
“It was 38 hours a week of standing in high heels,” she said.
“The second those doors shut, I would rip off my heels because my feet were killing me.
“We weren’t allowed to stop, weren’t allowed near the desk [even just to lean on] unless we were serving someone.”
Emily quit after a year but says six months later she was still feeling the effects.
She claimed she had to visit a physiotherapist for six months afterwards to break the muscle guarding in her calves, a condition where the muscles were held in a state of readiness constantly because of the heels, causing significant pain.
“Due to their dress code when I left I actually had developed back and feet problems as when I worked there they had not given the allowance of flats,” she said.
For the first three months she had physio once a week and then for the following three months once a fortnight.
Each session cost $120, meaning she had to fork out just over $2,000.
She also claimed she felt extremely stressed while working for the company due to the pressure put on her from senior management to make sales targets.
Targets or KPIs (key performance indicators) Emily described as “ridiculous,” claiming on one occasion she had a KPI of $17,000.
“My clearest memory of my time there is when they [my boss] told me I should tell a new staff member if they had a fourth week of not meeting their KPI they would be fired.
“This was a common threat.”
Emily also claimed she had less money than before by the time she quit as they were pushed to buy outfits from the store.
“At that point in time they were heavily pushing the bondage, I had to wear a harness while working,” she said.
Staff did receive a discount on any items bought from the store.
To meet rising expenses and working overtime to hit KPI requirements she took up her old job in the sex industry so she could continue living in Sydney.
She worked both jobs in order just to survive and did three nights a week sex work with the pay there allegedly the equivalent of a fortnight’s wages at Honey Birdette.
She also claimed she received little support from her boss, saying she was lucky if she heard from her once every three months.
If a problem arose she was often told “to sort it out myself,” she claimed.
Just going to the toilet also proved to be an issue, according to Emily.
On one occasion she shut up the store temporarily to use the bathroom and when she returned she found herself in trouble for doing so as head office had come to do a spot check.
“I got made to feel so horrible for having to pee,” she added.
Controversy has surrounded Honey Birdette about its working practices in the past.
Last month, a worker took to social media to complain about management instructing staff on how to change a light fixture, exposing themselves to a naked live bulb during the demonstration.
The anonymous staff member slammed the move as unsafe.
In 2016, former employee Chanelle Rogers said when she complained to a manager about a customer detailing a rape scene while she was alone in the store, she was told to “turn the music up and get on with the day and don’t let it affect my sales”.
The woman launched a petition slamming Honey Birdette for an alleged bullying culture, which was endorsed by other women claiming to also be former employees.
Protests were held outside Honey Birdette stores in 2016.
The Sun has contacted Honey Birdette for comment.
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