ATLANTIC CITY - Shirley Martindale, a 44-year employee of the Las Vegas and Atlantic City casino markets, has worn some pretty racy cocktail server outfits in her time.
She said she would dress up in a clown suit if that's what it took to keep her job.
But Martindale, who is close to 70, will never get to wear the skimpy new costumes that Resorts will have its cocktail servers don starting Memorial Day weekend. She was among a group of older cocktail servers who were let go by the casino, allegedly to make way for younger, sexier women, a lawsuit claims.
"My feeling is that, indeed, they were looking for people who were younger," Martindale said. "It's not that we weren't doing our jobs, because we were."
Martindale, of Egg Harbor City, is one of 46 former cocktail servers who have filed two discrimination lawsuits against Resorts. The suits claim Resorts fired the older women after a modeling agency representing the casino concluded they didn't look good in the revealing costumes.
Martindale, who declined to give her exact age, had worked at Resorts since it opened on May 26, 1978.
She said cocktail servers had to audition in the new uniforms while pretending to serve drinks to supervisors who judged their appearance.
"The experience was strange," she said of her audition in December. "The costume didn't fit me quite right. It had a tie in back and it was tight. I think it was a little bit strange because the uniform felt skimpy. I didn't think I looked great in it, but I wasn't fat."
Although Martindale had some reservations about the outfits, she noted she was willing to wear one of them to continue working at Resorts.
"I would wear a clown suit with big, funny shoes," she said. "I have worn a lot of skimpy costumes in Vegas that would make these uniforms look like nightgowns."
Resorts spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham issued a statement saying that each woman was judged "in a fair and objective manner" during the auditions. She went on to describe the new costumes as a critical part of Resorts' rebranding into a Roaring '20s theme under new owners Dennis Gomes and Morris Bailey.
"This particular cocktail server costume was chosen as part of the larger plan to unveil the new Resorts Casino Hotel as a destination for fun, excitement and a one-of-a-kind experience," Birmingham said. "All cocktail servers were given individual consideration, and the selection process was conducted in a fair and objective manner. We empathize with the cocktail servers who lost their jobs and gave them hiring preference in other open positions at Resorts. Some took advantage of this offer and some did not."
Martindale said she applied for other jobs, but was never called in for an interview. She believes her firing was part of a broader plan by Resorts to clear out the older employees as the casino repositions itself to attract a younger customer base.
"I think this is all predetermined anyhow," she said. "The writing was on the wall. That audition was a formality. I think they knew who they would retain or not. They didn't even look at my resume."
Enisa Fazlic, another former cocktail server who is suing Resorts, said she will never forget the wording of a Resorts email that notified her she had been fired.
"It said, ‘We identified candidates who matched more of the requirements,'" she recalled. "I wanted to know, what was the requirement? I didn't get an answer."
Fazlic, 42, of Ventnor, also went through an audition, parading around in the uniform while serving drinks to supervisors who pretended to be casino customers.
"I thought it looked nice," Fazlic said. "It's a little revealing, but I would wear it."
The black costumes are backless and cut high up the thigh. Cocktail servers will also wear fishnet stockings and high heels. Resorts says the outfits are inspired by the flamboyant flapper girls of the 1920s.
Fazlic, unable to find a new job since she was let go by Resorts in December, described her firing as a "bad dream." She said she was always a good employee during her eight and a half years at Resorts.
"Customers liked me," she said. "They said I was nice, and that I always brought their drinks fast. I never expected to be fired. It was awful."
Maria Keating, 55, of Ventnor, worked as a Resorts cocktail server for 29 years before she was fired. She also is suing Resorts. Keating did not model in the new costume, instead wearing one of her own dresses to the audition.
"It was terrible," she said of the costume. "You can be sexy, but that thing was a little bit disgusting. It's not even nice looking."
Keating said she received a call at home late one night, after she had completed her work shift. "I didn't have the look that Resorts wants from the girls," she recalled being told by a supervisor.
Keating said she was also told that she could apply for another job at Resorts, but she wasn't interested.
"These people don't want us there," she said.
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