Here are various items I've collected over the years having to do with barefooting.
Back in 2001, I filed a lawsuit against the Columbus Metropolitan Library for throwing me out for being barefoot. Here is a bunch of information on that, including the history of events that led up to it, and some of the media coverage. I lost that lawsuit.
There are no health laws prohibiting bare feet in establishments. Any prohibitions are purely from management of those establishments. However, there are many libraries (state-supported institutions) that prohibit bare feet inside. Here is an essay, Libraries, Bare Feet, and the First Amendment <HTML> <PDF>, analyzing a court case addressing general access to libraries. The court case is Kreimer v. Bureau of Police for the Town of Morristown. However, this essay was forwarded to the Franklin County (OH) County Prosecutor's office for an analysis. They didn't think much of my conclusions, and, ultimately, neither did the courts.
One argument that shopkeepers try to use (after they claim that it's a "Health Department" rule, and are proven wrong), is that they require shoes "for liability reasons". At least, here in Ohio, this is totally incorrect. Ohio court cases show pretty clearly that a barefoot patron who stepped on something and was injured would have the case thrown out of court. Here is a short essay, Shopkeepers, Bare Feet, and Liability <HTML> <PDF>, that discusses and includes a slip-and-fall case that illustrates the general principles of how Ohio Law operates in this area. The courts are still holding firm on this.
However, one does sometimes wonder. It seems as if the courts are quite liable to just make up what they want when it comes to barefooting. They'll ignore existing law, or make up a fanciful interpretation that applies specifically in a barefooting case, just because they are so sure that being barefoot . . . just . . . isn't . . . right. Here is a false arrest case, Feldt v. Marriott Corporation, 322 A.2d 913 (D.C. Court of Appeals, 1974) in which a woman was arrested in a Marriott's restaurant for refusing to leave. She had been served barefoot. Furthermore, the District of Columbia has a strong civil rights ordinance. While the charges were dropped, she sued for the civil rights violation. The Court totally ignored the plain language of the ordinance to rule against her.
It is also a common myth (debunked on the SBL web page) that it is illegal to drive barefoot. It looks like this myth has even been propagated by the Virginia Workmen's Compensation Commission and the Virginia Court of Appeals. Irvin Harlow, a commercial truck driver, had a sore toe, and, in trying to cut a hole in his shoe (because he was sure that it was illegal to drive barefoot), managed to poke himself in the eye with the knife he was using. He claimed Workmen's Compensation (an on-the-job injury), which his company fought (claiming that he should not have had a knife in his truck). Both the VWC (in Harlow v. Great Coastal Express, Inc.) and the Court of Appeals (in Great Coastal Express, Inc. v. Harlow) mentioned "Department of Transportation regulations that require drivers to wear shoes while operating a commercial vehicle on a public highway." However, after doing a thorough search of the United States Code of Federal Regulations (where such a rule would have to be published), I can say that there is no such rule. If there were such a rule, it would be in 49CFR392, but it's not.
The town of Boulder Junction has a statue of one of its famous fishermen (barefoot).
The Washington Metro bans bare feet, but they seem to keep it a secret.
If you try to enter the Supreme Court building barefoot, the guards will stop you and tell you that it is against the regulations. However, I sent for the regulations and no such rule appears there.
I have an image that can be used as an iron-on for a T-shirt (you can buy the special paper at a computer store). Wearing the shirt has the potential (not guaranteed) of making your barefootedness part of your "message", and then protected under the First Amendment.
I also have an image of Johnny Appleseed suitable for using as an iron-on for a T-shirt.
I did a search for library codes of conduct to see how many of them require shoes. I also searched for library codes of conduct for university or college libraries.
- Approximately 2/3 of public libraries require shoes in their codes of conduct.
- Approximately 1/6 of university libraries require shoes in their codes of conduct.
Do you think this might be because university libraries are inherently safer? Because college students are less liable to injure their feet while barefoot? Or might there be some other explanation?
I've also searched for city or municipal ordinances that require shoes. The results of that search are documented here. This does not include various ordinances I found reguiring shoes as a taxicab driver, while riding motorcycles or motor scooters, or while playing tennis on tennis courts.