According to a NJ Court, Waitresses Can Legally Be Fired For Gaining Weight
3:00 pm, July 29th | by Grace Rasmus
The ruling put an end to the long battle between the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and twenty-two former cocktail waitresses known as the “Borgata Babes” who claimed they suffered weight discrimination. The women specifically targeted a casino policy that prohibited “Borgata Babes” from gaining more than seven percent of their original body weight. (For reference, this means a 130-pound woman can’t gain more than nine pounds.)
If weight-maintenance is so important to the Borgata, why aren’t female employees given a stipend to compensate for the extra costs of preserving their womanly bang-ablilty? Does the casino offer free gym memberships? How about raises to pay for some of that expensive organic food, hmm? Oh, no? The company’s just going to demand that their female employees meet sexist and humiliating standards and not offer any extra perks or supportive structures? Cool. Great.
The waitresses claimed that instead of promoting a healthy lifestyle, the casino forced drastic measures. According to their testimony, some waitresses were told to take laxatives before mandatory weigh-ins or stop taking prescription medications.
Yet, despite all of this, the Atlantic County Superior Court ruled in favor of the Borgata, with Judge Nelson Johnson saying that the guidelines were fair (! FAIR!?) and that the women knew what they were getting into when they accepted positions in 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.”
While these women may in fact have known “what they were getting into,” that doesn’t detract from the fact that this ruling could set a very dangerous precedent for other employers. As TIME points out, Michigan is currently the only U.S. state that explicitly prohibits workplace discrimination based on height or weight.
“[The Borgata Babes decision was] a horrible ruling,” Michigan-based disability rights attorney Richard Bernstein told TIME. “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.” Bernstein represented Hooters waitresses in a similar lawsuit in 2010.
I’m curious to know at what point the casino would make an exception to these super strict rules, if ever. Anesthesia often leads to (temporary) weight gain due to the IV fluids, so what if a waitress had to have surgery? Since the women allege that they had to stop taking certain prescription medication in order to prevent weight gain, it’s clear that the Borgota doesn’t care too much about their employees’ health and would probably throw them out on the curb if they gained weight after a medical procedure. However, would it make a difference if the surgery were for, say, breast implants? Their jobs would probably be safe then, huh? And what if a women were to get pregnant while working there — is that grounds for firing? Remind me how these guidelines are fair, New Jersey.