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Gender Discrimination And Appearance Policies

Can you be fired for gaining a few pounds? According to the New Jersey Supreme Court, apparently the answer is yes. The issue arose based on the practice of an Atlantic City casino of firing cocktail waitresses if they gained more than 7 percent of their body weight. A group of "Borgata Babes" eventually tired of being embarrassed and harassed as part of regular weigh-ins and filed turned to the law to put a stop to the discrimination. Unfortunately, the practice was condoned by the court system based on the notion that the casino applies the rule to both male and female employees. That ignores the fact that there is no evidence that the men who work as bartenders are weighed as frequently, or even at all.

Whether or not the casino's policy is gender discrimination, and we believe it is, that does not mean that the women involved were not sexually harassed in violation of New Jersey law. Costello and Mains intends to pursue sexual harassment claims on behalf of women who were treated appallingly by their male bosses. It is no surprise that a policy like this would go hand in hand with a hostile working environment for women. 

A workplace should be free from discrimination and harassment. Studies clearly show that female workers, particularly older female workers, face far greater challenges than their male counterparts. Policies like this allow casinos and certain other businesses to enforce gender-based stereotypes that harm women disproportionately. While strides are being made in some areas of society, the court's approval of this policy and others like it allow employers to make women second-class citizens in the workplace.

Source: New York Post, "Borgata gets OK to fire 'Babes' who gain weight," by Jennifer Gould Kell, 25 January 2016 

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