A British woman is speaking out after she was sent home from a job interview based on her outfit.
Rosie Reilly, 26, recently interviewed for a sales position at a London branch of Boots Opticians, a popular eye care chain in the U.K.
The interview started normally enough, with the interviewer asking Reilly standard questions about her experience. But then, Reilly was told that she wasn’t dressed “conservatively enough” to participate in the second part of the evaluation process, which involved being out on the shop floor.
She asked Reilly to come back in a few days “dressed a bit more conservatively.”
“Because I’m me, I responded with something along the lines of, ‘Yes, of course, no problem!’” Reilly told TODAY via email. “It was only when I left the store and was on the bus ride back home to my girlfriend’s that the situation hit me and I burst into tears.”
Later that day, Reilly shared her frustration on Twitter.
“Hi @BootsUK,” she tweeted. “I wasn’t allowed to continue with my interview today because I wasn’t dressed ‘conservatively enough.’ I thought I looked nice!”
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She included two photos of the outfit she had worn to the interview: a knee-length black skirt, opaque black leggings, and a long-sleeved, high-collared blouse with a polka dot pattern.
Reilly has a non-traditional shaved hairstyle, as well as a few piercings and tattoos. According to Reilly, a photo of herself was included on the resume with her initial application so that the company was aware of her appearance up front, before the interview process.
“They didn’t say anything at all,” Reilly said about their reaction at the time.
Reilly’s initial tweet about her interview experience quickly went viral, and has racked up more than 7,000 likes and shares on Twitter.
Several supporters, including some British celebrities, have sent encouraging notes to Reilly.
“I think you look beautiful,” Jo Joyner, a British soap actress, wrote to her on Twitter. “If you were giving advice on the makeup counter, I'd listen!”
“Rosie, you should be a stylist not a shop assistant,” actress and comedian Kathy Burke chimed in. “Your look is fantastic! Don’t let @BootsUK or anyone rain on your parade.”
Following the public outcry, Boots said they are conducting a "full investigation" into the incident.
"We don't have an official dress code for interviews and realize we got it wrong on this occasion and we apologize to Rosie," the company said in a statement to TODAY.
A representative from Boots also sent Reilly an apology letter, which Reilly shared on Twitter.
“We encourage a diverse workforce and feel that this situation does not represent us,” Kim Whittet, a regional manager for Boots Opticians, wrote in the letter. “I am sorry that this has caused you such frustration."
Whittet invited Reilly to attend a follow-up meeting at a different branch of Boots Opticians, but Reilly declined the offer.
“I don’t want to work for a company who discriminates against people,” she said.
She did say that she would remove her piercings and hide her tattoos “should it be uniform policy for a potential job.”
However, she said she will not be changing her overall look anytime soon. Even though the Boots job interview did not turn out as she’d hoped, Reilly said the experience helped her gain confidence in her personal style.
“I realized that my appearance is who I am,” she said, “and I’m not going to change that for anyone.”