Court upholds firing for refusal to wear makeup

The woman who was fired by Harrah's for refusing to wear makeup has lost her bid to have the Nevada Supreme Court recognize gender bias as a basis for claiming employment discrimination.

Darlene Jesperson worked for Harrah's Reno for 21 years, most of that time as a bartender. She said the policy requiring all female employees to wear makeup was in place for more than 10 years but she didn't wear any because it "made her feel extremely uncomfortable ... ill and violated." She said Harrah's management knew that and didn't require her to wear makeup.

During her employment, she was reviewed as an above average employee with acceptable appearance. But in April 2000, Harrah's implemented a "Personal Best Policy" requiring female workers to wear makeup and prohibiting male workers from doing so.

When she refused to put on makeup, Harrah's fired Jesperson in August 2000.

She sued arguing gender discrimination and that the company had in effect given her permission to ignore that company policy by allowing her to do so for 20 years.

The district judge agreed with Harrah's, which said she was lawfully terminated for violating company policy and granted summary judgment.

She took the case to the Supreme Court asking for a ruling declaring a public policy in Nevada against gender discrimination.

The high court refused Monday saying Nevada has not specifically recognized gender typing as a violation of public policy and that the court would not do that on its own.

"Furthermore, we decline under the circumstances of this case to recognize a claim for tortious discharge based on a separate and distinct public policy against gender stereotyping or generally against employers terminating employees for violating a company policy," the order states.


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