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Judge: It's OK to Fire Waitresses for Being Fat

An Atlantic City judge rules in favor of weight discrimination policies.

An Atlantic City, NJ, judge ruled that cocktail waitresses working at a local casino can be fired for gaining weight. The ruling came out of a weight discrimination lawsuit brought forth by 22 waitresses -- known as the Borgata Babes -- at the city's Borgata casino. The women claimed they were required to have frequent weigh-ins and weren't allowed to be more than 7 percent heavier than their weight when hired. Women who had gained weight were suspended until they got their weight down. Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson ruled in the favor or the casino, arguing that the woman knew that being attractive and thin was part of the job. The application for the job read "part fashion model, part beverage server, part charming host and hostess. All impossibly lovely." Johnson also said that because the women were knowingly referred to as "babes," they should have expected such scrutiny.

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"For the individual labeled a 'babe' to become a sex object requires that person's participation and nothing before the court supports a finding of fraud, duress or coercion in connection with the plaintiffs' hiring," the judge wrote. "Plaintiffs cannot shed the label "babe'; they embraced it when they went to work for the Borgata."

Uh-huh. So by the judge's definition, you can't be chubby, or thick, or a little overweight and still be a "babe." "Babe," according to the judge, is synonymous with whippet thin. Hmm. Since when?

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This isn't the first time a female server has sued over weight discrimination. In 2010, Hooters waitress Cassandra Smith filed a discrimination suit after the chain put her on a 30-day weight-related probation.

So where do we go from here? "Weight is the last bastion of discrimination in the workplace that's still acceptable," said James J. Parks, a lawyer who works on harassment and employment-related cases. "Whether an employer's policy is nice or nasty doesn't mean anything. Whether it"s illegal is another issue, and unfair doesn't always equal illegal."



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