Casino can fire waitresses for gaining weight

A judge rules that Atlantic City's 'Borgata Babes' knew what they were getting into when they took the job.

By Jason Notte Jul 29, 2013 2:18PM
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ (© Wayne Parry/AP)Atlantic City, N.J., gambling revenues are getting pummeled by casinos in neighboring states. Its newest casino, Revel, just exited bankruptcy. Until Memorial Day, most people thought its boardwalk was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.

But what's the city's biggest issue, according to the Superior Court of Atlantic County? The waistlines of 22 former cocktail servers collectively known as "Borgata Babes."

Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson ruled in favor of a policy at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa -- an Atlantic City casino co-owned by Boyd Gaming (BYD) and MGM Resorts International (MGM) -- that prohibits "Borgata Babes" from gaining more than 7% of their original body weight, according to NBC 10 in Philadelphia.

Although court documents show the women were advised to take laxatives before mandatory weigh-ins and to forgo prescription medication if it was causing them to tack on weight, Judge Johnson ruled the women knew what they were getting into before they took the job.

"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," Johnson wrote, according to the Press of Atlantic City. "Nevertheless, for the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person's participation."

Though Time magazine immediately blasted the ruling as evidence of rampant weight-based discrimination in the U.S. -- only Michigan has labor laws prohibiting it -- Judge Johnson's decision shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows Atlantic City. Even in New Jersey's sea of diners, pork roll, pizza and subs, Atlantic City and its newly returned Miss America pageant have spent decades presenting and pushing their standard for the American female form.

Yet Judge Johnson says gender has nothing to do with the Borgata's policy, which applies to both male and female "Borgata Babes."

Granted, only 46 men had that title between February 2005 and December 2010, compared with 646 women. That fact didn't escape the notice of former Borgata Babes Renee Gaud and Trisha Hart, who brought a $70 million lawsuit against the casino in 2006 over the same policy. Their case ended quietly with a confidential settlement two years later.

The Borgata has attempted to present itself as a Las Vegas-style casino since opening a decade ago, and the Borgata Babes' miniskirts, cleavage-baring bustiers, black tights and high heels were all part of that shift in strategy. As casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania took off and gambling activities in New York and Delaware increased, even Judge Johnson noted that the town's dream of becoming Sin City East resulted in some lunk-headed misfires in the name of marketing.

"From the court's perspective, the term 'babe' is at best undignified and at worst degrading," Johnson wrote in his decision. "Regardless, there are people in our society who view 'babe' as playful flattery. . . . To the chagrin of those in our society hoping to leave sexual stereotypes behind, some of those people are female. And some of those people may be among the plaintiffs."

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Jul 29, 2013 2:51PM
If you had no problem with getting hired for you looks, then you should have no problem with getting fired for them, either.  It's a two-way street...
Jul 29, 2013 3:10PM
If you took a job with "Babes" in the title, what did you expect? It's not as if these women are Rhodes Scholars or anything, they knew their assets front and back got them their jobs. Play by the sleazy rules you signed up for or find more honorable work.
Jul 29, 2013 3:34PM
A Judge with some common sense?  What will we find next?  An honest lawyer?  An uncorrupt Union Boss?
Fat people need to realize they're not special.....and they're fat.
Jul 29, 2013 5:21PM
Girls, You can't have it both ways!
Jul 29, 2013 4:26PM

If you're black you can cry about it, if you are ugly you can cry about it and if you are fat you can cry about it.


I am about to cry just hearing all these losers cry all the time.


If you were hired for your looks, don't be so shocked that you are fired when your looks leave you.  Instead of crying, try losing some weight to keep your job.  Fat people just need to understand that they are fat and stop trying to get the rest of us to be so politically correct about talking about them. 

Jul 29, 2013 5:16PM
It makes sense, just as any other kind of entertainment businesses, casinos need to present themselves in ways that correspond to corporate images, which means it's front-line employees cannot be obese. 

Movie studios have clauses in the actors/actresses contracts for each film that dictates their physical weight and appearance.  It only makes sense for large casino operations to follow suit.

Jul 29, 2013 4:27PM
They were exerting an adverse gravitational pull on the roulette tables - the house was losing a bundle.
Jul 29, 2013 6:43PM
There is no way to win this argument.  We tell people to be satisfied with their bodies then our ads all feature hot, young, skinny folk.  We say that obesity is the major killer in our society but our food venues serve what is basically concentrated fat.  We say our children need to eat better at school but serve them trash because it's cheaper.  How can anyone win this argument, given the way we all operate?
Jul 30, 2013 1:49AM

They are given a range not to exceed 7% of their hired in weight. For a woman weighing 130 pounds, that means she cannot gain more than 9.1 pounds. The women are subject to periodic weigh-ins and can be suspended if they fail to meet the requirements. Exceptions can be made for medical conditions, and women returning to work from a pregnancy have six to nine months to meet the weight requirements, documents state.


This really is not a bad idea. It keeps them from getting into a unhealthy lifestyle. It's funny how a size 8 in the USA is a size 10-12 in Europe. We have a habit of trying to make people feel better about themselves; when we should be encouraging them to be healthy and active.

Jul 29, 2013 4:45PM

7% weight gain limit isn't very much...

"advised to take laxatives before weigh-ins"

never in my life

It's New Jersey, they all look like left overs from Jersey Shore so weight is the least of the issues. This is another example of the kinda dump Atlantic City has turned into.
Jul 29, 2013 6:39PM
Congratulations to a common sense judge and applicable verdict!  Now if only some judges would immediately throw out "frivolous and often ridiculous" lawsuits and make the plaintiffs pay for the defense attorneys!  Then we'd have fewer "scummy" lawyers promising to take cases and not be paid unless they win.  And save the taxpayers money and not waste judges time.
Jul 29, 2013 6:18PM
So, does that mean that these fatass owners and managers get fired too? What about the ugly ones, I mean owners!
Jul 29, 2013 7:09PM
They knew what the rules were when they got hired.  
Jul 29, 2013 6:48PM
"Babes" duh. The whole point of the job is to get patrons to pay lots of money, they are not going to pay for overweight girls. Yes love yourself for what ever shape and size you are but it isn't going to change the long-lived "male fantasy". Plus if they want the job (not that it is a good one anyways) they should get motivation from that rule. You want a job sweety, then lay off the sweets.
Jul 29, 2013 6:10PM
When anyone is hired, are they told at that time about not gaining weight?? Just wondering.
Jul 29, 2013 5:04PM
I guess it's OK to discriminate as long as they are bringing in tax money.  I agree that they knew what they were getting themselve into especially if the girls signed a contract, then there isn't much they can do, but this is pretty awful.  Telling them to take laxitive or not take prescription meds?  Didn't we already go through this with flight attendants?  Also a girl can still be beautiful even if she gained a little weight, do they not have chubby chasers in NJ? 
Jul 30, 2013 2:35PM

This is for all the women...Reverse the roles






You hear us fat guys crying discrimination...

Jul 29, 2013 5:23PM
WOW!  All the fat chicks on here are really ticked by this!  Oh well, that's the way the blubber rolls in Atlantic City!  If you take a job at an acceptable weight that has you featuring your body, you had better keep yourself presentable, and not get fat.  Man, if only wives could be fired (or laid off) for getting fat.... imagine how many divorce attorneys would be out of work and how many women would not let themselves go?
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