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Borgata Babes learn the hard way: Be careful what you sign up for

Borgata Babes must be impossibly lovely, they are absolutely sex objects, and it’s all perflectly legal, according to a New Jersey court. A group of 22 cocktail servers had complained that the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s hiring and employment policies constituted sexual discrimination and created a culture of harassment. An Atlantic County judge has ruled against the plaintiffs in a lengthy decision that granted the casino’s motion for summary judgment.

The employees particularly objected to the casino’s policy that prohibited servers from gaining more than 7 percent of their body weight. The judge pointed out that the servers had signed statements agreeing to the policy. The agreements passed legal muster, the judge said, so the servers had no grounds to complain.

The servers also knew from the time they applied for their jobs that the casino marketed its servers as “Borgata Babes,” all of whom are required to wear revealing clothing and high heels. Tellingly, the hiring process begins with “audtions” — the court noted that the positions were designed to be part entertainer and part cocktail server.

In fact, according to the brochure distributed during auditions, the casino’s philosophy is that the Borgata Babes are “part fashion model, part beverage server, part charming host and hostess. All impossibly lovely.” Because the servers knew this when they accepted the positions, they willingly accepted the label “babe,” the court said. 

The court admitted that the policies and hiring practices are geared toward turning the servers into sex objects. However, the court added, becoming a sex object requires that person’s participation. In essence, if the servers did not want to be treated this way, they should not have accepted the jobs.

The decision sends an important message to workers in similar situations. The casino was open and up-front about what it expected of its servers, and it asked the servers to agree in writing to terms of employment that could, in other workplaces, be considered discriminatory. The servers had fair warning, they had full knowledge and they agreed in writing to accept those terms, so they cannot complain now.

They can, however, appeal the decision, though there was no word on what their next step would be.

Source: Press of Atlantic City, “‘Borgata Babes’ lose suit over weight bias,” Jennifer Bogdan, July 24, 2013

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