Court Rules Casino Can Regulate Employees Weight

Photo: Getty/Don Murray/Stringer
Cocktail waitresses at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City had better watch their weight if they want to keep their jobs (never mind their dignity): A New Jersey appeals court has ruled that the casino can continue to dictate the weight and appearance of its cocktail waitstaff, known as "Borgata Babes," reports Grub Street.

In 2008, 22 members of the Borgata waitstaff sued the Atlantic City casino for gender discrimination, alleging that it was illegal for managers to punish them for putting on weight and arguing that their employer viewed them as little more than sex objects. But in 2013, an Atlantic City Superior Court ruled against them, saying that the Borgata was within its rights because "for the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person's participation." The plaintiff's appealed, but just yesterday, the state appeals court threw their suit out, deeming the "personal appearance standards" of the casino to be lawful in its written decision.

What are these "personal appearance standards," exactly? Put simply, the servers can't gain or lose more than 7 percent of their body weight. The "Borgata Babes" sign contracts stating as much when hired, and if they violate the appearance standards, they can face discipline in the form of a 90-day suspension without pay, a company-mandated weight-loss program, and job termination.

And this, unsurprisingly, played out in some rather unsavory ways. One plaintiff, who was pregnant while working for the Borgata, told the court that a shift manager weighed her "just in case you're just getting fat and that's the real reason why you want to wear [the maternity costume]," according to ABC News. (She later resigned.)

The Borgata is happily crowing about it's victory, with vice president and legal counsel Joe Corbo telling ABC News "We are pleased that the three appellate court judges agreed with prior rulings that our policy is lawful and non-discriminatory to women. As the Court noted in its ruling, Borgata’s policy was fully and openly disclosed to all costumed beverage servers, male and female, and all of the litigants voluntarily accepted this policy before they began working for us."

And while the servers did have to have an inkling of what they could be subjected to at the casino — “They’re beautiful. They’re charming. And they’re bringing drinks...Are you a babe?” reads the Borgata's hiring description, writes Press of Atlantic City — that doesn't make that kind of sexist, predatory environment right. Even if, sadly, it makes it legal.

As for a silver lining: The court acknowledged that 11 of the 21 plaintiffs could have grounds to sue the Borgata for creating a hostile work environment. To those ladies, whose legal battle is just beginning, we say good luck.

More from Work & Money