Mark Law Firm Blog

Judge: No sexual harassment suit for Atlantic City's 'Borgata Babes'

Posted by Jamison Mark on May 8, 2014 5:54:00 PM
New Jersey Attorneys

“She moves toward you like a movie star, her smile melting the ice in your bourbon and water,” reads a brochure advertising the sex appeal of the cocktail servers at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. “You forget your own name. She kindly remembers it for you. You become the most important person in the room. And relax in the knowledge that there are no calories in eye candy.”

The cocktail servers at the Borgata aren’t interviewed; they’re auditioned. During that audition, they are given a brochure describing the casino’s expectation that they will be “part fashion model, part beverage server, part charming host and hostess. All impossibly lovely,” and successful applicants are called “Borgata Babes.” The mandatory sexy bustiers, high heels and provocative nickname, however, add up to a pervasive culture of sexual harassment, some of the servers complain.

It was the Borgata’s weight policy that prompted 22 of those servers to file a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit with the New Jersey Superior Court recently, however. Among other rules, the Borgata enforces a strict policy prohibiting the “Babes,” once hired, from gaining more than 7 percent of their body weight as measured at their “auditions.”

Unfortunately, the judge just threw their case out of court. Focusing on the fact that the women were well aware of what they were getting into when they “auditioned” for the job, the judge granted the casino summary judgment. Translation: the judge felt that, even if everything the women said in their complaint was true, they still couldn’t win.

“The Borgata Babe program has a sufficient level of trapping and adornments to render its participants akin to 'sex objects' to the Borgata’s patrons. Nevertheless, for the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person’s participation,” reads part of the 24-page ruling. “[The servers] cannot shed the label babe; they embraced it when they went to work for the Borgata.”

It’s true that all those hired as Borgata Babes signed an agreement to abide by the weight policy -- which the judge described as reasonable. However, the ruling appears contrary to most sexual harassment and gender discrimination cases in the past, where exploiting female beauty to increase profits has generally been frowned upon.

Do you think the complaining Borgata Babes have a fishnet-stockinged leg to stand on?

Source: The Press of Atlantic City, "'Borgata Babes' lose suit over weight bias," Jennifer Bogdan, July 24, 2013

Topics: Sexual Harassment