PETA says there are safe alternatives to leather shoes.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is protesting a requirement by Chrysler that factory workers must wear leather shoes or face being sent home without pay.
"I hope that you will retract this memo immediately and allow workers to wear shoes or boots made from any of the rugged, safe leather alternatives that exist today," PETA corporate affairs director Matt Prescott said in a letter to Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli that was distributed to the media Thursday.
Chrysler spokesman Mike Palese said a recent memo was posted at the Los Angeles parts depot to remind workers to wear appropriate footwear after a manager noticed people wearing canvas shoes.
The standard calls for footwear with leather uppers and slip-resistant soles.
"It is a safety issue," he said. "We were just re-articulating that, in order to get the folks working there moving in the right direction for their own benefit," he added.
Palese said that no one was going to get fired as long as they had a shoe with a strong-enough upper and slip-resistant sole.
The PETA letter was sent via an e-mail. It said, "This requirement is likely to offend many, and it may even discriminate against employees whose religious beliefs forbid or discourage the wearing of leather."