Former Casino Waitresses Sue, Claiming They Were Fired For Getting Pregnant
If the uniform doesn't fit, must you quit? That's a policy that two former cocktail waitresses are challenging, saying in a lawsuit that a Philadelphia-area casino illegally discriminated against them for becoming pregnant.
The women, Alycia Campiglia, 27, and Christina Aicher, 31, both became pregnant in 2008 while working at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., and claim in a lawsuit that they were demoted after telling managers that they were expecting, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Both women were later fired.
Parx mandates that its cocktail waitresses, known as Parkettes, along with their male counterparts, Park Men, mustn't gain or lose more than 7 percent in body weight, based on how much they weighed when they were hired.
In a lawsuit filed last week, Campiglia alleges that she was told by Darlene Monzo, Parx's director of marketing, that the expectant mother had only herself to blame for her condition and that the "casino did not have to offer [Campiglia] anything in this economy."
The newspaper reports that both waitresses were offered other jobs at the casino -- within players services or at the concession stand, though they wouldn't be able to earn tips and so were considered demotions. The casino's policy was to transfer pregnant cocktail servers once their uniforms no longer fit.
The women filed a complaint three years ago with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC ruled in August 2009 that Parx had discriminated against pregnant cocktail servers.
Since then, the business has changed its policy to allow pregnant workers to continue working as Parkettes, Thomas Bonner, Parx's chief counsel and vice president, told the News.
"We do have maternity costumes now," Bonner said.
Still, the casino maintains its strict 7-percent rule on weight gain or loss, and should an employee fail a periodic weigh-in, he or she is subject to dismissal.
Bonner defended the rule, saying that the Parkettes and Park Men are entertainers, make public appearances, and appear in calendar and talent contests.
"We've established the Parkettes as sort of a brand with which customers identify the casino, and it's important to maintain the integrity of the brand," he said.
The women's attorney, Sidney Gold, told the paper that the casino can stipulate the restrictions because it categorizes Parkettes as entertainers, rather than cocktail waitresses. (Click here to see a video clip of the Parkettes performing.)
"The only entertainment these women ever did was serve liquor," Gold said. "They were anything but entertainers."
The News notes that that Borgata Hotel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., was the target of a similar lawsuit in 2006, which sought $70 million in damages. The matter was settled out of court four years ago, though terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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