Borgata Hit with Lawsuit - Thursday 2nd of February 2006

ATLANTIC CITY – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa was hit with a $70 million lawsuit Monday that claims the gaming hall discriminated against female employees in its zeal to keep its skimpily attired cocktail servers slim and sexy.

"The litigation stems from the casino's controversial policy, enacted last year, that prohibits the "Borgata Babes" cocktail servers from gaining more than 7 percent of their body weight.

"Two former Borgata Babes, Renee Gaud and Trisha Hart, allege in the state Superior Court suit that the casino created a hostile workplace tainted by discrimination and sexual stereotypes.

"The suit consists of seven main claims, each asking for damages of not less than $10 million. An eighth claim requests punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a trial.

"Borgata and its managers are accused of discriminating against female employees "under the guise of a highly offensive and demeaning personal appearance policy."

" "From the top brass of senior management down to lower-level supervisors, the Borgata's workplace is polluted by sexual stereotypes, a sexual and gender-hostile environment, and sex discrimination," the suit alleges. "Rather than help to eradicate the workplace of such discriminatory behavior, Borgata has actually promulgated employment practices by which women are sexually objectified and their workplace performance is secondary to the size of their breasts and waistlines."

"Borgata spokesman Michael Facenda declined to comment Monday on the suit other than to say that the casino stands behind its employment policies. Employees deemed overweight are suspended or fired if they fail to comply.

"The suit contends Gaud and Hart were among many cocktail servers who "endured bullying and degrading harassment about their weight and appearance on a daily basis."

" "The complaint tells chapter and verse of what Renee and Trish experienced," said their attorney, Jeffrey I. Carton, of the White Plains, N.Y., law firm of Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz.

"Gaud and Hart were outspoken about Borgata's weight policy when it took effect in February. They claimed were targeted by the casino when they asked for an exemption for medical reasons. Carton declined a request Monday for an interview with the women.

"Gaud, of Mays Landing, Atlantic County, suffers from hypothyroidism and has difficulty controlling her weight. The suit alleges she was harassed by Borgata's management after she put on weight and her costume size increased. She resigned last summer, her husband said.

"Hart, of Wenonah, Gloucester County, said in an interview last year she was forced to take a drug test when she requested a leave of absence. She said she was fired for failing the drug test, but she disputed the results.

"Borgata placed weight limits on its cocktail servers as part of personal grooming standards designed to maintain the Las Vegas-style megacasino's upscale and edgy image. Borgata Babes embody the gaming hall's sexy reputation — each of them attired in slinky black minidresses, low-cut bustiers and high heels.

"In the past, Borgata's management defended the weight policy as fair and legal. Borgata said the policy clarified appearance standards that were established when the casino opened in 2003. It specifies that female cocktail servers should maintain "natural hourglass figures" and their male counterparts should have "V-shaped torsos, broad shoulders and slim waists."

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