Judges Rule Borgata Babes Policy Is Fair, but Might Have Led to Hostile Work Environment
In a case brought by 21 former servers at the casino, New Jersey state appellate court ruled that the Borgata has a right to regulate its waitresses’ weights. The same judges decided that a court has to decide whether Atlantic City casino made mistakes in how they enforced their policies.
The judges decided the Borgata’s policies regarding personal appearance are lawful. At the same time, it has still not been determined whether the casino subjected 11 of the waitresses to a hostile work environment in enforcing its policies. The court will decided on those 11 cases in a subsequent ruling.
Joe Corbo Praises Decision
Joe Corbo, Borgata’s vice president and legal representative, said the casino is pleased with the ruling on the case. Mr. Corbo noted that Borgata disclosed its policies to male and female employees before they were hired. According to the casino, their employees agreed to the policy beforehand.
The lawsuit was brought by former costumed beverage servers known as the “Borgata Babes“. The waitresses are famous among Atlantic City’s gamblers. They are popular enough to have their own yearly calendar.
About the Borgata Babes
Borgata Babes are a key part of the casino’s marketing. Each server wears a corset, stockings, and high heels. The lawsuit threatened to undermine the casino’s longstanding promotional model, which has helped Borgata attain a number one position in the local gaming market.
In his statement, Joe Corbo said, “We have long held that Borgata’s personal appearance policy is fair and reasonable. We are pleased that the three appellate court judges agreed with prior rulings that our policy is lawful and non-discriminatory to women.”
Plaintiffs’ Lawyer Is Critical
A lawyer for the disgruntled Borgata Babes had a hard time reconciling the two decisions, though. Deborah Mains, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the case, said the judges have tried to separate personal conduct in enforcing the policy from the policy itself, but it’s impossible to do so. She said that policy encourages as hostile work environment.
Deborah Mains was quoted saying, “Sexual objectification has been institutionalized and is being allowed to stand. It’s difficult to separate the harassment claims that the court is recognizing from the overall theory that the working environment is hostile because of the personal appearance standards.”
Harrassment of Borgata Babes
Former Borgata Babes say they were asked by supervisors whether they had gotten pregnant or whether they were just fat. In other instances, co-workers were encourages to make pig noises, to incidate they were getting bigger.
The September 17 decision cannot be seen as a one-hundred percent win by the Borgata. The judges overturned a 2013 lower court decision which threw the case out altogether.
Casino’s Statement on Policy
Borgata disputes the claims of a hostile work environment. The casino says its policy simply states that wait staff who gain or lose more than 7% of their body weight are subject to firing. Management says the casino has fired two staff members over the years, due to the policy. One of them gained too much weight, while the other lost too much weight.
Borgata’s Legal History
Borgata seems to be the Atlantic City history with the most legal issues in recent times. Borgata is still suing professional poker player Phil Ivey for $9.6 million, claiming he cheated at baccarat with a technique called edge sorting. The sessions which Borgata is suing over took place over several month in mid-2012, when Ivey and a friend gambled for high stakes at the Borgata.
At first, the wagers were for $50,000 a hand. Borgata lured Phil Ivey back to the casino for $100,000-a-hand sessions, but these proved even costlier for the casino. Eventually, the Ritz in London sued Phil Ivey for edge sorting, giving Borgata the idea to do the same.
The casino is also suing Clinton Portis for $170,000 in debts, claiming he borrowed money from the casino that he never intended to pay back. Clinton Portis, the former star NFL running back for the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos, is currently undergoing a $5 million bankruptcy case.
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