Twenty-two cocktail servers, known collectively as “Borgata babes,” filed a lawsuit against their employer, Borgata Hotel and Casino, accusing them of weight discrimination.
The women the women assured that they were subjected to periodic weigh-ins and they can even be disciplined if they gained more than 7% of their body weight.
In his ruling against the former coctail servers, Judge Johnson admitted the Borgata action were fair, and reminded to the ‘Babes’ that they all knew what they were getting into when they applied for the casino’s selective program.
“The Borgata Babe program has a sufficient level of trapping and adornments to render its participants akin to ‘sex objects’ to the Borgata’s patrons,” Johnson wrote, according to the Press of Atlantic City.
“Nevertheless, for the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person’s participation.”
Casino officials revealed to the media that they were pleased with Johnson’s ruling on the matter.
“We have long held that Borgata’s personal appearance policy is lawful and reasonable,” said Joe Lupo, vice president of operations for the casino.
“The court noted that our personal appearance standards are fully and openly disclosed to all team members and that every plaintiff voluntarily accepted them before starting work.”
However, some found the ruling highlights the lack of weight-based discrimination protections in the country – only Michigan prohibits workplace discrimination based on height or weight.
“[The Borgata Babes decision was] a horrible ruling,” Michigan-based disability rights attorney Richard Bernstein told reporters.
“You have to look at the far-reaching applications of it. You always have to look at a decision with a broad brush. That decision gives employers a tremendous power over people in the workplace.”
As The Huffington Post explains, Bernstein has represented a Hooters waitress suing on similar, weight-discrimination grounds. The lawyer added that Johnson may have set an unfortunate precedent for employers.
By the way, this is not the first time the casino has replied to a lawsuit regarding their weight-gain policies.
In 2006, a pair of coctail servers accused their former employers of fostering “a sexual and gender-hostile environment and sex discrimination” and asked for $70 million in damages.
“The case is all about the Borgata’s attempt to objectify women in a manner that is not only demeaning, but also unlawful,” Jeff Carton who was representing the plaintiffs said ay the time.
“When an arbitrary weight-gain policy that has nothing to do with their competence to do their job is imposed, there’s something wrong with that policy.”
Stephen Schrier, a partner at Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel, in Cherry Hill, with an expertise in gaming and employment law, said the discrimination lawsuit demonstrated how far an employer could go in promoting a brand.
“The significance is that any company that has a brand, and uses its employees to be a part of that branding, has to really think about the impact that a decision in this case could mean,” Schrier said. “Certainly, the outcome of the case would have implications beyond the casino industry.”