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... it hasn't.

Case in point, the plight of Darlene Jesperson, a bartender for over 20 years at Harrah's. I recommend reading the whole post. (Link courtesy of Metafilter.)

I have to wonder if, under the ADA, she happened to have rosacea, they would be required to make reasonable allowances for that (including not forcing her to wear makeup).

Peachy. Now I have to go find out what casinos are owned by Harrah's and its parent group before I go to Vegas so I don't accidentally patronize them.

I really can't quite believe an employer is trying to perpetrate this in this day and age, and, even more unbelievable, that judges would uphold such inequity.

There are reasonable employer expectations, and there are unreasonable employer expectations. Guess which this is?


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 5th, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
In Vegas, Harrahs owns... well, Harrah's and the Rio, which is off the strip. The Rio's nice and has some good free shows, but there's plenty on the strip to keep you occupied. Harrah's is a pretty dull casino and you're not missing anything by bypassing it.
Jan. 5th, 2005 09:01 pm (UTC)
*grins* Good. :) That's a great answer, because now I don't have to feel like I'm denying myself part of the Vegas experience. I like it when I can keep my ethics while still having fun. *winks* Nice to see you updating your journal again, by the way!
Jan. 5th, 2005 09:25 pm (UTC)
Well, I suppose it depends on what you think of the idea of selling sex, or using sex to sell things.

Harrah's probably thinks of themselves as selling "an experience" as they call it on their website. This experience appears to include scantily-clad dancing girls, and the usual Vegas stuff. You can find a lower-grade version of it at Hooter's, and plenty of other entertainment establishments. Are Vegas casinos required to hire both women and men, handicapped people, overweight people, etc, for their all-nude dancing shows? Harrah's probably thinks of the bartenders as employees who contribute to an overall atmosphere of beauty and sexual excitement that the customers are paying for.

Is it a stupid requirement? Yes. Do employers have the right to be stupid, as long as they aren't doing something against the law? Yes. Is asking a woman or man to be sexy in their job against the law? Well, I'm not an expert in this type of law, so I will say that I just don't know. But I do know that I'd never be hired as a stripper at the Cheetah because of my looks, and I'm not sure that I have a case in court for discrimination.

Looks count in a lot of jobs, and a lot of jobs have very detailed and picky dress-code requirements.

For what it's worth, I used to know a lady who worked at Caesar's Palace as a cocktail waitress for a couple of years. Every day they were required to show up freshly showered, and the Caesar's make-up staff would take care of the rest. There were strict weight requirements, strict requirements about shaved legs, they had to keep their fingernails in good condition and manicured, they were not allowed to cut their hair shorter than a certain length or color it, and they had to wear make-up as applied by the Caesar's make-up staff. She loved the job. She said it was the most money she'd ever made, she had loads of fun, she didn't work terribly long hours, and all she had to do was take care of herself to look pretty. She emphasized to me how well the Caesar's management took care of their waitresses and how well the customers tipped her. She loved that she could make that kind of money simply as a waitress, instead of having to take her clothes off, which was something she had been considering. You could argue that since she was a waitress, her physical attributes shouldn't have mattered, but Caesar's Palace clearly believed that waitresses did a better job of keeping the customers happy and wanting to come back when they were fuckable young females. Keeping customers happy and wanting to come back was certainly part of the job description of the waitress.

Of course, there's always the question of where to draw the line in asking employees to sell sex. Personally, I can't tell you how unhappy it makes me that people generally like beautiful people more than they do ugly people. But it is a incontrovertable fact that humans are hardwired by millions of years of evolution to prefer youth, health, bodies that are within certain parameters of height-weight ratios and hip-waist ratios, and symmetrical features. Possessing these qualities gives you certain abilities within the job market, just as having good math or writing skills does.

I don't like it either, but I guess I would have just found another job if I didn't like my job's dress code. The only other solution would be to create a law that says that no one can use any type of sexual excitement to sell things. It would immediately wipe out half the ads on TV. And, since people can feel violated or humiliated for non-sexual reasons, it would mean that to be fair we would have to ban all dress codes that weren't strictly required for safety. So, if I wanted to show up to a very important business meeting wearing a bathrobe and flip-flops, because I feel violated by wearing a suit, no employer can hold that against me. Seems a bit extreme, doesn't it?

And having said all this, in my heart of hearts, I do think it's incredibly silly and pigheaded. I just wouldn't sue them over it.

Jan. 5th, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
Well, I suppose it depends on what you think of the idea of selling sex, or using sex to sell things.

Not precisely. I inserted the "equal treatment" part in the title of my post on purpose. In reading the whole article, there are several things that are quite bothersome. First, the men are having no such expenses put on their shoulders: female employees receive no additional salary to compensate them for the preparation time and the cost of the cosmetics they are required to wear; it is not a voluntary expense, given Harrah's policy, so the company should certainly pay for it, but they don't.

Additionally, this is a recent change. This particular individual had been in her position for 20 years - TWO DECADES! - and was repeatedly praised by customers and staff for the competence with which she performed her duties. Clearly, the casino was not losing any revenue for her not wearing makeup.
Jan. 5th, 2005 11:07 pm (UTC)
Well, again, if you think of it in terms of selling sex, the men are not central to the image that Harrah's needs to project in order to make it's customer base happy. In fact, honestly, I think most customers would dislike men wearing mascara, blush, etc.

You're probably right that Harah's should reimburse her for the make-up, etc. It's a very good point.

As far as the policy changing over time, I'm not sure that's relevant. Either what they are doing is legal or not, I don't really see how changing their mind about a dress code proves the dress code is wrong.

Also, it's pretty impossible to prove a gain or loss of revenue because of a single employee one way or another. I can see Harah's point that they have cultivated a certain image and consider it vital to their success. This particular employee might not have cost a revenue decrease, but if they let her get away with not wearing make-up, they have to all the women get away with it. If no one has to wear make-up, then the benefit of made-up female servers goes out the window.

Anyway, I fully agree with you that they are jerks.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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