December 30, 2004 at 1:43 pm #2099
What say you?
Court Backs Firing of Waitress Without Makeup
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday. Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah’s Entertainment Inc casino bar in Reno, Nevada, objected to the company’s revised policy that required female bartenders, but not men, to wear makeup. A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a “Beverage Department Image Transformation” program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination.
In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Harrah’s. All three judges are males appointed by Democratic presidents. “We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex,” Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority. He cited the precedent of a 1974 case in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women.
The Lambda Legal Defense Fund, a gay rights group that backed Jespersen’s suit, had argued that forcing female employees to have different standards than men was unlawful under rules, known as Title VII, against discrimination on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. The ruling found, however, that the casino’s appearance standards were no more burdensome for women than for men.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sidney Thomas backed the reasoning of the plaintiff. “Harrah’s fired Jespersen because of her failure to confirm to sex stereotypes, which is discrimination based on sex and is therefore impermissible under Title VII,” he wrote. “The distinction created by the majority opinion leaves men and women in services industries, who are more likely to be subject to policies like the Harrah’s ‘Personal Best’ policy, without the protection that white-collar professionals receive,” he wrote.
December 30, 2004 at 4:00 pm #17121
I don’t have a problem with Harrah’s policy. They are in a service industry and feel that will attract more customers and make more money by requiring their female employees to wear makeup. Men and women are different. Whether it’s right or wrong, society has established different grooming standards for men and women in a professional environment; and Harrah’s apparently feels that failure to require their employees to follow these standards will effect their profits. Ms. Jespersen was aware of the policy and chose not to follow it even though she knew the consequences.
December 30, 2004 at 5:28 pm #17122
When courts rule that men can not be fired because they choose to grow a goatee, sideburns, or beard, I’ll agree that courts should rule that women can not be fired because they choose not to wear makeup. In the service industry, appearance matters. At Disney, men who deal directly with the customers can’t have facial hair. At Harrah’s, women who deal directly with the customers must wear makeup. Seems like the same type of standard is being held to both sexes.
December 30, 2004 at 7:42 pm #17123
guess I ‘got lucky’… I went to college and work for the government, not cutting edge, not too exciting, but my job is based more on my brains than my looks… which is a good thing
I don’t think the woman getting fired was necessarily “fair” but I was told when I was younger that “life is not fair”… so “get used to it and get on with it”… I did work in a hospital once that only allowed men to have facial hair if they had a medical excuse or a religious excuse… lots of guys got their doctors to sign off on that, then it got old and they’d shave anyway…
I get more upset about stories that have women making 80 cents to the dollar for doing the same job as men in the same company…and it happens more often than people will admit… oh, well, at least I don’t have to wear a black bed sheet when in public…
December 31, 2004 at 3:41 pm #17124
I’m not all that familiar with Title VII. It’s not hard to have an opinion on the subject but before I’d take a position, I’d have to read another account of the same story from a different news organization. It seems that Reuters has some kind of slant.
What kind? I’m not sure but there was information included in the story that didn’t seem to – on the surface – have much to do with the real meat of the story. For instance, the story told of the makeup of the three-judge panel. (And no, no pun intended.) Why is their gender important to the story? Is it to show a sexual bias? If so, why did one of them dissent? And what difference is it supposed to make that those judges were appointed by Democrats?
We also read that Lambda Legal Defense Fund backed the plaintiff’s suit. We weren’t told that she was a lesbian. Of course, that’s not important nor is it relevant but Reuters saw fit to include just a tidbit by letting us know that Lambda was involved. I mean, did they represent her or did she have other legal representation?
If I’m ever at Harrah’s in Reno, will I refuse to have a drink because of the lawsuit? No. Would I be reluctant to order a drink from a woman who wasn’t wearing makeup? No. Is Darlene likely to win if there are further appeals? No.
January 1, 2005 at 12:19 am #17125
I think it sucks that she lost the case but how do I feel about it. I guess if that is a Harrah’s rule and she knew about it then that is her problem. ( I will probably get abused for that comment but I don’t care, it is new years eve and I have beer in the house! Cheers!)
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