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Related Categories: U.S. | Womyn
No Makeup, No Job, Court Rules
by 365gay.com (repost)
Saturday Jan 8th, 2005 11:51 AM
A woman who was fired from her job for refusing to wear makeup was not treated unfairly a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.




No Makeup No Job Court Rules
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: December 28, 2004 8:19 pm ET

(San Francisco, California) A woman who was fired from her job for refusing to wear makeup was not treated unfairly a U.S. federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

In August 2000, Darlene Jespersen was fired from her position as a bartender at Harrah's Casino in Reno, Nevada, after the company enacted a new dress code, called the "Personal Best" program, requiring all women in the beverage department to wear makeup, specified as foundation or powder, blush, lipstick and mascara, applied precisely the same way every day to match a photograph held by the supervisor.

The only requirement for men is that they not wear any makeup of any kind.

Jespersen had worked for Harrah's or 20 years.

Following her dismissal she filed a federal civil rights suit with the help of Lambda Legal.

In 2002 a federal judge ruled against Jesperson, saying Harrah's appearance standards do not discriminate against women.

Lambda appealed arguing that federal civil rights laws protect employees from being subjected to dress codes or other standards that impose unequal burdens on men and women.

In its 2-1 ruling today, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court ruling.

"We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority, citing a 1974 precedent in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sidney Thomas agreed with Lambda's argument. "Harrah's fired Jespersen because of her failure to confirm to sex stereotypes, which is discrimination based on sex and is therefore impermissible under Title VII," he wrote.

"We are surprised and deeply disappointed by today's decision, which misapplies key legal precedents that have protected working women for many years," said Lambda Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer/

"Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act requires the protection of women from burdensome sex stereotypes. But today's decision makes those protections hollow because it says women -- including our client Darlene Jespersen -- cannot even seek fairness with a day in court to explain how sex-based employment rules impact them in real life."

©365Gay.com 2004

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Darlene Jespersen
Saturday Jan 8th, 2005 12:40 PM
Your Turn: Case is about civil rights and sex bias

SPECIAL TO THE RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL
2/5/2004 12:47 am

In December, a federal appeals court heard a case about respecting our civil rights laws and keeping sex discrimination out of the workplace. It’s my story and it’s about the compromises we all make as employees — and the fact that there are some limits on employers who impose extreme, sexist requirements on women, and then enforce them with pink slips.

Despite receiving consistently excellent reviews from my supervisors and generous thanks from my customers, I was fired from my bartending job at Harrah’s in August 2000 for not adhering to rigid sex stereotypes in the company’s new dress code. The new policy, called “Personal Best,” requires all women in the beverage department to wear makeup, specified as foundation or powder, blush, lipstick and mascara, applied precisely the same way every day to match a photograph held by the supervisor.

New policies and dress codes were not uncommon in my 21 years of employment at Harrah’s. Each time, I made the necessary adjustments while continuing to make my living by earning my customers’ loyalty and my supervisors’ praise. But “Personal Best” went much further. The new policy meant that, in order to keep my job, I had to fit into rigid stereotypes that felt demeaning and humiliating to me. I felt I was no longer a respected, skilled employee. Instead, I had to become a sex object. And it was only because I am a woman.

Clearly, employers are allowed to require employees to present professional appearance. My case isn’t about professionalism, uniforms or basic standards that customers expect. It’s about Harrah’s judgment that women cannot be professional and presentable unless they alter their faces to create a particular, ultra-feminine look. The men who worked by my side did not have to conceal their faces. Harrah’s considers them professional when they look like themselves. Although it had nothing to do with mixing drinks and handling customers, keeping my job became more and more about meeting Harrah’s extreme and outdated idea of what a woman should look like. That’s precisely what our civil rights laws were meant to stop.

As I wait for the court to rule on my case, I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from many former co-workers and the public, and also for the brave women who came before me and made sure our civil rights laws are respected and enforced. For more than three decades, courts said the airlines violated sex discrimination laws by refusing to hire male flight attendants, enforcing rigid hair and makeup requirements for female flight attendants and requiring their female flight attendants to comply with more rigorous weight restrictions than their male coworkers.

The airlines lost all of their cases for the same reason Harrah’s is wrong now: It’s sex discrimination to hold women to more oppressive, stereotyped standards than men doing the same jobs. The airlines didn’t fall apart when they had to stop their sex discrimination, and the same will prove true for Harrah’s.

My 21 years of experience within the casino business taught me that customers don’t turn away from gaming, shows or bars because a female beverage server lacks makeup. Customers just want efficient, friendly service from neat, clean, competent staff. On the other hand, if giant companies like Harrah’s are free to impose any rules they want on workers just because they are women or racial minorities or a particular religion, that can’t be good for the people or the future of Nevada.

Darlene Jespersen lives in Reno.
by Solidarity From A Straight Sister
Monday Jan 10th, 2005 4:15 PM
This absolutely unbelievable!! Please fight this bullshit and appeal this decision! Another important consideration that could sway the court is that makeup and other "grooming" chemicals marketed to women are actually significant health hazards and contributors to cancers. There is legitimate research to back this up. See website.
by Gramsci's ghost
Friday Jan 28th, 2005 12:24 PM
If Gramsci were alive today, he would agree with the sister that keeps posting the message that womyn must now move to the stage of taking State power. It's the logical thing to do.

(1) Womyn are the main consumer of capitalist goods, thus a womyn's party can call for boycotts that not just hurt the corporate's profits but can destroy the whole fascist structure (that corporation are - Chomsky)

(2)A womyn's party ruled by the militant assembly of the grass-roots (recallable at any transgression) can be an example for the world - as womyn of the world look towards the advanced US/European womyn's movements for support.

(3) A womyn's progressive party can help women financially (by taking money spent on wars) to establish self-managed and factory councils or work-place groups to promote justice and equality.

(4) A womyn's party can start dismantling the GOD/MAN metaphor that clouds the minds of all of us - including some progressive womyn - Books sitting on shelves in libraries do not reach the masses of working women. But a political party can do wonders on the cultural level.
The private religious schools would not get funded to promote male/god/ education.
Etc...

Social transformations cannot take place without the transformation of hegemonic ideologies. The womyn's movement is the avant-garde and progressives males know this. So this direction is not divisive as reactionary"progressive" women
claim. The whole world stands to gain if womyn can take power.
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