Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fired for No Makeup?!?!

"Shenoa Vild hates to wear makeup. Face goop is simply not for her. . . "

"She happens to think she has a naturally healthy, vibrant complexion. After meeting her, I have to agree. But Vild, a waitress, says her former boss had an entirely different opinion. He wanted Vild to wear makeup. She wouldn't. So, she says, she got canned."

This is from an excellent article by Michael Stetz Union-Tribune Columnist called Waitress says bare face led to firing. The article mentions the fact that in another case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit filed a few years ago by a woman in a similar situation but doesn't go into detail about the previous case. Here's a bit more for you . . .

The case was called Jespersen v. Harrah's Operating Co., Inc., 392 F.3d 1076 (9th Cir. 2004).
There, the court ruled that the female worker didn't show that the employer's dress code imposed an "unequal burden" on women because of their sex.

What? Are they kidding?

Women had to wear stockings.

Women had to wear nail polish.

Women had to wear their hair down and "teased, curled, or styled."

Women had to wear makeup, foundation, concealer and/or face powder.

Women had to wear blush and mascara "neatly in complimentary colors."

Women had to wear lip color "at all times."

Men had to have short haircuts and neatly trimmed fingernails.

Hello - even under the court's "unequal burdens" test, this screams of sex discrimination. On the face of it, these requirements impose an unequal burden based on sex alone. Talk about expensive! And time consuming! And goopy!

The requirements are clearly all about sex and have nothing to do with the job duties - to mix and serve drinks.

Not only that, but the court got it wrong in rejecting the argument that these requirements constitute illegal sexual stereotyping. Of course they do. They require women to conform to a false idea of beauty that applies only to women.

In fact, the policy forbid men from wearing make up. This confirms the fact that it is a sex-based stereotype.

And it's discrimination against men too.

The Ninth Circuit left open the possibility that another worker could challenge these kinds of rules, and I hope someone does. For one thing, the Ninth Circuit only applies to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, and Arizona, so other circuits could rule differently (although some consider the Ninth Circuit to be one of the most progressive appeals courts in the country). Or another worker in that area could challenge a policy using the guidance provided by the Harrah's case.

Kudos to Shenoa Vild for daring to show her real face to the world and refusing to go with the goop. I, for one, am proud of this young woman for standing her ground. I just wish she didn't have to pay such a heavy price.
Hopefully a good employer will recognize her for her work. And her inner strength and beauty.

Thanks also to Michael Stetz for highlighting this important issue.


  1. I understand that her dismissal was unfair, but I don't see that there is any sexual discrimination here.

    Men have to shave their faces. Women don't. Men aren't allowed (normally) to have facial jewelry or earrings. (I've worked in places where they forced them to take them off, while I had a nose piercing) And what if a man wanted to wear makeup? Would he be allowed to? I doubt it.

    The fact of the matter is, there are different standards in terms of appearance for men and women. We both have to do annoying things to be presentable, but they are obviously not always going to be the same things.

    If she's going to claim sexual discrimination, the men should too for having to shave their face.

  2. More on both sides here: