Borgata casino can fire its cocktail waitresses for putting on too much weight, a court has ruled.
An appeals court Thursday in New Jersey upheld a lower court 2013 ruling allowing the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa to mandate weight limits for servers known as “Borgata Babes.”
More than 20 women, whose uniform includes tight-fitting corsets, stockings and high heels – filed a lawsuit, arguing it only affected female employees. But a court in 2013 ruled that the policy did not discriminate against one gender, generally because it also applied to male “Babes” and the servers had signed an agreement requiring them to maintain an appearance standard as a condition of employment.
The appeals panel found that the lower court ruled appropriately in dismissing the discrimination claim based only on weight but said complaints from 11 servers who claimed they were sexually harassed after putting on weight due to pregnancy or illness should not have been dismissed.
Deborah Mains, the women’s attorney, said the cocktail waitresses had been asked by supervisors whether they were pregnant or just getting fat, while co-workers allegedly snorted like pigs at them.
The court ruled that while the policy was legal, a lower court should determine whether the 11 women were subjected to a hostile work environment.
“Sexual objectification has been institutionalized and is being allowed to stand,” said Mains. “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.”
Borgata Casino has fired two waitresses in recent years for breaching the policy, which states that servers cannot gain or lose 7% of their body weight.
One of the women was sacked for gaining too much weight while the other lost too much.
The so-called Borgata Babes are an integral part of the casino’s brand and marketing. The casino even produces a Borgata Babes calendar that is one of its top-selling items each year.
The casino said it was pleased the policy was upheld, adding that the rules were disclosed and agreed to by all female and male ‘costumed beverage servers’ when they were hired.
“We have long held that Borgata’s personal appearance policy is fair and reasonable,” said Joe Corbo, Borgata’s VP and legal counsel. “We are pleased that the three appellate court judges agreed with prior rulings that our policy is lawful and non-discriminatory to women.”