It's easy to chuckle over the Borgata Babe case.

Twenty-two women hired by the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to be "costumed beverage servers" known as Borgata Babes sued the casino over a personal-appearance policy that calls for them to be suspended if they gain more than 7 percent of their weight at hiring.

But the lawsuit highlighted two relatively serious themes in modern life - stereotypical ideals of feminine beauty and our overly litigious society.

The babes sued, and the babes lost - because, it turns out, there is nothing in the law that prohibits employers from enforcing appearance standards - even if the standards are what might commonly be called sexist.

Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson, who issued a summary judgment dismissing the case, said courts have held that "employers are allowed to rely upon 'stereotypical notions of how men and women should appear.'"

This is especially true, Johnson noted in his 24-page decision, when the appearance standards are spelled out at hiring and the job is described as "entertainers who serve complimentary beverages to our casino customers."

"It strains credulity for any of the plaintiffs to claim they did not understand the program they would be working in and the role they were expected to play as a 'Borgata Babe,'" Johnson wrote.

The record in the case makes it clear that Borgata was looking to hire entertainers, that applicants would be evaluated on their appearance in skimpy costumes and that they would be required to maintain that appearance, if hired. Indeed, all Borgata Babes signed a statement agreeing to the weight policy.

In other words, these women didn't have a chance in court. But Borgata looked like a deep pocket, and in America today, if you feel wronged, you sue - even if you have little substance on which to base your suit.

Of course, on the surface, the Borgata Babes' complaints were right in line with societal messages that say we shouldn't judge people by their appearance, we certainly shouldn't judge them by stereotypical notions of beauty, and that it's just plain mean to punish someone for gaining weight.

All of which may be true.

But it doesn't mean you can be hired as a "babe," agree to certain standards of "babe-ness" and then expect a court to call the whole thing sexual discrimination.

"Plaintiffs cannot shed the label babe; they embraced it when they went to work for the Borgata," Johnson wrote.

So while the judge's decision may appear to be terribly politically incorrect to some, it certainly seems reasonable to us.


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