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Casino generally in clear on waitress weight requirement

Posted On: Sep. 18, 2015 12:00 AM CST

Casino generally in clear on waitress weight requirement

A New Jersey appeals court has held that, with some exceptions, an Atlantic City casino did not violate state discrimination law when it enforced a weight standard for scantily clad “BorgataBabes.”

A total of 21 women who were current or former employees of the Marina District Development Co. Ltd., which operates as the Atlantic City-based Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa, filed suit, beginning in August 2008, contending that a requirement that the BorgataBabes could not increase their baseline weight, as established when hired, by more than 7% violated the state's discrimination law, according to Thursday's ruling by the New Jersey appellate division court in Jacqueline Schiavo et al. v. Marina District Development Co. L.L.C.

Of 686 female and 46 male associates subject to the standard between February 2005 and December 2010, 25 women and no men were suspended for failure to meet the weight standard, according to the unanimous ruling by the three-judge panel.

The plaintiffs charged the company with sexual harassment, hostile work environment, disparate treatment, disparate impact and gender stereotyping.

In largely upholding a ruling by the state court in Atlantic City on the weight standard, the appeals court said “the evidence fails to present cognizable claim of facial discrimination” based on the weight policy.

“We cannot read the (state law) to bar as discriminatory an employer's appearance policy requiring an associate, representing a casino business to the public, must remain fit and within a stated weight range, such as required” by the law, said the ruling.

The appeals court, however, reinstated some plaintiffs' charges, holding that the record does include adequate evidence that the weight policy was applied to some plaintiffs in a discriminatory, harassing manner, targeting women returning from maternity and medical leave.