Barefoot - Laws


A number of myths have existed from time to time about regulations requiring the wearing of footwear. In the United States, during the period of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, business establishments would deny admittance to barefoot hippies arguing that health regulations required that shoes be worn. This led to a belief by many in various nonexistent OSHA or local health department regulations preventing people from going to stores, restaurants, and other establishments without shoes. However, those regulations that exist apply only to employees, and not customers. Specifically, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to, "ensure that each affected employee uses protective footwear" when there is a danger of foot injuries due to falling or rolling objects, objects piercing the sole of an employee's foot, and where an employee's feet may be exposed to electrical hazards. Additionally, employee footwear, where required by OSHA, must also comply with one of the standards described in OSHA's regulations. State and local laws may also dictate when and where an employee must wear shoes.

There are no state health codes that require customers to wear shoes, as was demonstrated by a project undertaken by The Society for Barefoot Living in 1997, and again in 2002. Individual businesses, however, are free to refuse service to customers without footwear or clothing that they deem inappropriate, as stated on "No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service" (or similar) signs that have been used in the past, and individual cities and towns may also require certain footwear in public places. In August 2009, Burger King admitted that it took this rule perhaps a bit too far when employees at a Sunset Hills, Missouri restaurant asked a woman to leave because her six-month-old baby was barefoot.

It is not illegal to drive a motor vehicle while barefoot. Some people speculate that driving barefoot increases the risk of an accident if bare feet slip off the pedals. It is legal throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to drive barefoot. However, in some jurisdictions, police officers may ticket you for other things if the fact that you were driving barefoot or in flip-flops/high heeled shoes hindered your driving and/or resulted in an accident.

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