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Bryan E. Kuhn
Counselor at Law, P.C.
Business & Employment Law Attorney

Judge rules in favor of employer in discrimination suit

Allegations of discrimination on the job should always be taken very seriously by managers and employers in Colorado. If someone is being treated unfairly because of their gender, race or religion, they have the right to take legal action against their employers for engaging in or allowing such behavior to occur.

But there are some instances in which allegations of discrimination are unfounded. Employees may have misinterpreted employment actions or they may not understand that an employer can be well within his or her rights to make certain decisions, even if they are unpopular among employees. 

Recently, a company was able to successfully defend against claims that they had discriminated against 22 waitresses. The 22 women filed a lawsuit claiming that their employer, a casino hotel and spa in another state, discriminated against them because of their weight.

The women were employed as waitresses known as “Borgata Babes.” In this role, they were expected to serve clients and maintain a certain level of physical attractiveness. They argued that the company would fire or suspend women who gained or more than 7 percent of their initial weight during their employment. This, the waitresses argued, was discrimination based on their weight and sex.

However, in 49 states, including Colorado, there are no laws that bar discrimination based on a person’s weight. Therefore, a judge ruled, the company’s weight-based decisions were not unlawfully discriminatory. Further, it was ruled that the women had voluntarily entered into the employment agreement specifying the physical requirements for the position. When the women were hired, they understood that there were weight-gain restrictions.The company had not engaged in fraud, coercion or duress during the hiring process, the judge ruled. And they had not violated any state or federal laws in their decisions.

It is important to remember that employment decisions are not always illegal just because they are mean or unpopular. In any situation involving allegations of discrimination, both an employee and an employer may want to speak with an attorney prior to taking action in order to determine what the best course of action may be. 

Source: TIME, “Too Big to Cocktail? Judge Upholds Weight Discrimination in the Workplace,” Josh Sanburn, July 26, 2013

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