“Borgata Babes” To Have Their Day in Court Over Sexual Discrimination Claim

More than a decade after filing a sexual discrimination lawsuit against their employer, five Borgata cocktail waitresses will finally have their case heard. This follows a decision by a New Jersey appeals court. The women, known as “Borgata Babes”, were part of a larger group who had claimed they’d been harassed over weight gain connected to either pregnancy or another medical issue. Though an earlier lawsuit had ended in a decision that Borgata was permitted to require its cocktail servers to maintain a certain weight range, once weight gain was connected to a pregnancy or medical condition the court held that employees were entitled to a trial.

The lapse of time between the filing of the original lawsuit and the Appeals Court’s decision was due to a long string of legal motions and decisions. A lower court judge who has since retired dismissed the case in 2013, and then again in 2016 despite a higher court’s decision that the trial should proceed. Some of the women dropped out and others reached settlements with the Borgata, but the five remaining plaintiffs continued to fight for their rights, claiming that the casino’s imposition of personal appearance standards despite their medical conditions subjected them to harassment and adverse employment actions. These included:

• Tara Kennelly was told that she had to switch from her regular costume to a maternity costume after revealing her pregnancy, even though she was in an early stage and still able to wear her normal costume. After giving birth and returning to work she was subjected to intrusive weigh-ins twice in a single day.

• Despite notes from personal physicians explaining that they had been prescribed medication that affected their weight, both Noelia Lopez and Jacqueline Schiavo were suspended over weight gain above the casino’s standard. Lopez, who was prescribed asthma medication, was also told that she must lose one pound per week despite her physician warning that doing so would be unhealthy for her to attempt. Schiavo was prescribed medication following surgery.

• One server, Cindy Nelson, was told that she had to participate in weigh-ins when she was pregnant. Her supervisor intimated that she had requested a maternity costume to hide weight gain.

• Tania Noel reported that one of the casino’s managers had indicated to her that women should not return to work at the casino after having children because they get fat.

Harassment and discrimination come in many forms, including the imposition of gender-specific requirements or discrimination based on the result of a medical condition. If you believe that you have been a victim of discrimination, we can help. Contact our employment discrimination law firm today to set up a convenient time to meet with one of our attorneys.

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