Ex-Casino Bartender Takes Makeup Rule Battle to Appeals Court

December 15, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A former Harrah's Reno bartender fired for not wearing makeup has taken her sex-discrimination battle to a federal appeals court.

Plaintiff Darlene Jespersen is asking the US 9 th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to throw out a lower court ruling upholding Harrah’s appearance standards as being equally applied to both men and women, the Associated Press reported. Senior US District Judge Edward Reed ruled against Jespersen last year.

After 21 years as a casino employee, Jespersen was fired in August 2000 after arguing that wearing makeup should be a personal choice and had nothing to do with her job performance (See Reno Bartender Sues After Batting the Rouge ). “Women are very capable without makeup,” Jespersen told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “We shouldn’t be considered little tokens or dolls. We shouldn’t have to put on masks.”

The Harrah’s policy Jespersen is challenging requires female employees to wear makeup and lipstick and bars men from wearing makeup, ponytails or have their hair below the top of their shirt collar. The appearance standards were put in place at 20 of the company’s casinos nationwide in 2000.

But Harrah’s spokesman Gary Thompson predicted the appeals judges will uphold the lower court ruling in favor of the casino company. “The main position is that the court has upheld an employer’s right to impose reasonable grooming and cleanliness standards, particularly for employees who are serving the public,” Thompson said.