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Watch Out! Weight Fluctuations Can Be Reason for Termination
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Borgata Babes

Summary: A New Jersey appeals court decided that an Atlantic City casino can have personal standards for their cocktail waitresses that include regulating their weight.

Twenty-one former and current cocktail waitresses at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City filed a lawsuit against the casino for sexual discrimination back in 2008. The women, dubbed the “Borgata Babes,” were known for wearing tight-fitting corsets and heels and appearing in a popular calendar each year.


The suit contested a company policy prohibiting them from gaining more than 7% of their baseline weight when hired. The Babes’ claims included sexual harassment, hostile work environment, disparate treatment, disparate impact and gender stereotyping against their employer.

Last week an appeals panel found the lower court ruled appropriately in dismissing the discrimination claims based only on weight. According to the New Jersey appeals court, personal appearance standards are lawful partly because the women agree to the standards before starting their employment.

However, the appeals court said it was wrong to dismiss the claims of eleven servers who said they were sexually harassed after putting on weight due to pregnancy or illness. These claims should not have been dismissed; a lower court will decide if the standards subjected the women to a hostile work environment.

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Attorney Deborah Mains says, “Sexual objectification has been institutionalized and is being allowed to stand. It’s difficult to separate the harassment claims that the court is recognizing from the overall theory that the working environment is hostile because of the personal appearance standards.”

Of 686 female and 46 male associates subject to the standard between February, 2005, and December, 2010, 25 women and zero men were suspended for failure to meet the weight standard. The casino admits one server gained too much weight while the other server lost too much. Neither of those servers participated in the lawsuit.

Employees frequently sue for harassment related to personal appearance standards in the workplace. Two years ago, a black woman sued the restaurant chain Hooters for not allowing her to put highlights in her hair because of the color of her skin.


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