Monday, January 03, 2005

Back to the 1970's

Did you know that it's not sex discrimination to require that women bartenders at Harrah's casinos wear makeup but not to require the same of men bartenders? This is what a three-judge-panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decided with a two-to-one majority. Interesting. And what is the reasoning behind this decision? Well:

"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.

He cited the precedent of a 1974 case in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women.

I wonder if the same argument could be used, for example, to force me into a burqa? Or high heels, even if I have tender feet? Or what about the expectation that I should weigh about twenty pounds less than whatever the healthy weight for a woman of my height should be? All these can be argued to be grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men. But I'd definitely argue that they are also discriminatory.

The ruling also found that

...the casino's appearance standards were no more burdensome for women than for men.

I'm not sure what the casino demands of the male bartenders, but to require someone to wear makeup every day is pretty burdensome. It means having to spend an extra half-an-hour a day on preparation before going to work, it means having to spend quite a few dollars on mascara and foundation and lipstick and so on, and it means, for some women, at least, the likelihood of allergic reactions to all the chemicals in the cosmetics.

This is a really stupid ruling. I rule that the two judges in the majority should spend the next year putting makeup on every morning and that they should then be assessed by a jury of female bartenders who would rank the judges' appearance on some simple ten-point scale.

No, the only judge who got it was the third one, the one in the minority. This is what he said:

"Harrah's fired Jespersen because of her failure to conform to sex stereotypes, which is discrimination based on sex and is therefore impermissible under Title VII,"

Thanks to Wyzardess for the original link.