Last month, a state court in New Jersey ruled that a casino’s policy of requiring waitresses to stay below a certain weight was not sex discrimination. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa had a policy which prohibited waitresses, called “Borgata Babes,” from gaining more than 7 percent of the amount they weighed when the casino hired them. To enforce this policy, the casino regularly weighed waitresses. To keep their jobs, some waitresses reportedly resorted to taking laxatives before weigh-ins or stopped taking prescription medication.
The court held that this policy did not constitute sex discrimination because the casino applied the weight limit to both men and women. Also, the court reasoned that the waitresses were made aware of the policy when they were hired and they agreed to abide by it.
While this case may have turned out differently if it were brought under Maine law, instead of New Jersey law, the case illustrates the fact that many policies that employers implement seem like they should be illegal even though they are not. One way for workers to fight back against these policies is to form a union. While one waitress may not be able to persuade her employer to change a weight policy, if all waitresses stand together, in the form of a union, they have more power to persuade their employer to make changes to its employment policies.