‘Borgata Babes’ Can Move Forward with Gender Discrimination Case, Rules Appeals Court

Posted on: May 20, 2019, 02:53h. 

Last updated on: May 20, 2019, 02:53h.

The “Borgata Babes” will have their day in court, a New Jersey appeals panel ruled on Monday, as first reported by The Courier Post.

Borgata Babes
The Borgata Babes were once a central part of the Borgata brand and even had their own pin-up calendar, but the concept was dumped when MGM took over the property from Boyd Gaming in 2016. (Image: Press of Atlantic City)

A group of Borgata beverage servers who sued their employee 11 years ago for gender discrimination — because they were told that if they amassed more than seven percent of their bodyweight once hired, they would face the chop — will finally bring their case before a jury.

But not all of them.

Just five of the 22 Borgata Babes who brought the original suit back in 2008 are free to proceed with a gender-bias claim against the casino.

These are women who were able to prove their weight gains were the result of “pregnancies or documented medical conditions, most of which were specific only to women.”

The court noted Monday that 14 other women who would also have had a claim had already settled out of court with the casino.

Toxic Environment

With their tight-fitting corsets, high heels, and stockings, the Borgata Babes were very much part of the Borgata brand, even starring in an annual pin-up calendar, until the brand was discontinued when MGM assumed full control of the casino from Boyd Gaming in 2016.

In their initial complaint, the women described a toxic work environment where senior executives allegedly demanded to know if they were pregnant if they had put on weight and would snort like pigs to express disapproval of their body shapes.

But a 2013 ruling by Superior Court Judge Nelson Johnson in Atlantic County found the Borgata’s rules were “reasonable” and could only be discriminatory if they targeted one gender over another, which they didn’t, he said.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of the Borgata Babes were women, around 7 percent were men and both genders were held to the same rules and standards, Johnson noted.

“For the individual labeled a babe to become a sex object requires that person’s participation.” he wrote. “Plaintiffs cannot shed the label babe; they embraced it when they went to work for the Borgata.”

Judge Overstepped Authority

A 2015 appellate ruling overturned that judgment, finding that some women had specifically been targeted for weight loss due to their gender.

But Johnson subsequently allowed lawyers for the Borgata to renew a motion for summary judgment, which enabled him to dismiss the case a second time.

The appellate court ruled Monday that Johnson — who has since retired — had no authority to do so.

The court on Monday noted several specific cases, such a server who was suspended from work despite her claim that her weight gain was a side effect of post-surgery medication, and one who put on weight after being prescribed asthma medication after the birth of her child.

One server claimed a Borgata executive had suggested women who had children should not come back to work “because they get fat.”

“We’re looking forward to the trial that should have happened a long time ago,” a lawyer for the Babes, Robert D. Herman, told The Courier Post. “This is justice delayed.”