A trial court judge recently held that Borgata Casino’s “Borgata Babes” program—its employment of scantily-clad, attractive casino servers who were required to watch their weight—did not run afoul of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). In Schiavo, et al. v. Marina District Development Company, LLC, No. ATL-L-2833-08, 2013 WL 4105183 (Law Div. July 18, 2013), 22 female plaintiffs claimed that they were subject to gender discrimination because they were forced to work in an atmosphere of sexual objectification, and could be discharged if they gained more than 7 percent of their weight at the time of hire. In granting summary judgment, the trial court relied on a rarely interpreted section of the NJLAD, which permits employers to establish reasonable workplace appearance, grooming, and dress standards. The court held that the plaintiffs were aware of and voluntarily accepted the terms of their employment at the time of their hiring (including the weight requirement, which had an exemption for disability-related weight gain), the program was reasonable in terms of the industry’s mores and practices, and there was no evidence that the weight and appearance requirements were disparately enforced based on gender.
Note: This article was published in the September 2013 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.