Gender discrimination in modern society is a very important issue, both in terms of societal impact as well as the law. It is a popular subject for sociology assignments. Gender discrimination is forbidden by law, but it becomes very difficult to determine what exactly comprises gender discrimination in many cases. This is a sample case study (an an example of Ultius essay writing) on gender discrimination that focuses on the case of Darlene Jespersen, a woman who sued her employer because of a job requirement that she wear makeup.
Gender discrimination in the U.S.
Women have faced multiple challenges while in the workforce. Women receive less pay for working the same jobs as their male counterparts and at times can face sexual harassment in the workplace. Darlene Jespersen faced gender discrimination working for Harrah’s casino. By making Jespersen wear makeup while working in the casino her employer was discriminating her based on her gender alone. Her employer further violated her rights by firing her for refusing to wear makeup. While the employer argued that wearing makeup is part of the job requirement because of the clientele they work with, the claim can be made that the employer was wrong for firing women based on her appearance.
The Harrah’s company argued that they were not discriminating against women as their policy required that the men have strict appearance guidelines. However, the guidelines for men were not as stringent as those for women.
“The new appearance guidelines require women to wear teased, curled or styled hair, solid black leather shoes and makeup …The new policy also forbids male employees to wear ponytails or hair below the top of shirt collars.”
Asking the women to devote time to their appearance amounted to advertising and promotion within the casino (see gender roles in advertising). While women have to make sure everything from their hair, clothes, makeup to their shoes is up to par, the only thing men have to worry about is their hair. If men had to go through the same arduous task of styling their hair and wearing the right amount of makeup it could be claimed that the policy is equal. The company also refused to accommodate the individual needs of their employees as they would not even accommodate pregnant employees.
Despite the fact that Jepersen devoted 21 years of her life to working for Harrah’s she was dismissed for a simple policy change. The company should have also taken into consideration that the policy towards appearance and attire was different when Jepersen was first hired. Without working the issue out first with Jepersen, they violated her rights as an employee.
Case ruling was not in her favor
Despite being told by Equal Opportunity Commission that by law her employer was able to force her to wear makeup, as Nevada is a right to work state, Jepersen sued her employers for gender discrimination. The court ruled that Harrah’s was not discriminating against Jepersen’s agenda as the men had to meet appearance requirements as well. The court ruling stated “employers can distinguish between genders with different standards for appearance, as long as one gender is not burdened more than the other” (Jepersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co, 2006). However, it could be argued that as women have to spend more time, money and energy on their appearance than men do, that women are being more burdened than men. The dissenting judges agreed on this motion however they stated that Jepersen was unable to provide evidence of this unequal burden. The ruling was incorrect as Jepersen’s rights as a women were violated.
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Was the case a mistake or compromise?
Harrah’s could have approached the situation in a way to accommodate Jepersen. Rather than attempt to come to a compromise or make adjustments to the appearance policy they terminated her without a discussion. Harrah’s upholds the double standard that women are expected to look beautiful at all times while men do not have to be concerned about appearance. By stating specific areas in which the women need to be addressed they perpetuate a stereotype that exists in our media and society. This stereotype is that for a woman to be desirable she must be thin, dress provocatively, style her hair and wear heavy makeup.
When Jepersen went against this judgement on her appearance she was fired from a position she held for several years. As the culture in which she had originally obtained the casino job has changed, she may have difficulty finding future work especially in light of the lawsuit against her former employer. While Harrah’s may not have violated any laws they did not present themselves as an understanding employer. Harrah’s presented the image that they view women as objects who are to be seen in their casinos rather than employees who work hard for them. As long as employers are allowed to treat their employees unfairly we will continue to have a society which favors corporations over individuals. This sample was produced by an Ultius writer.
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Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co., 444 F.3 (9th Cir. 2006)
Casino Bartender Fired After Refusing to Wear Makeup. (October 2, 2000). Las Vegas Sun.
Retrieved from: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2000/oct/02/casino-bartender-fired-after-refusing-to-wear-make/
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