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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Make-up required?

More news in sexist shit from Steve Gilliard.

A female bartender who refused to wear makeup at a Reno, Nevada, casino was not unfairly dismissed from her job, a U.S. federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Darlene Jespersen, who had worked for nearly 20 years at a Harrah's Entertainment Inc casino bar in Reno, Nevada, objected to the company's revised policy that required female bartenders, but not men, to wear makeup.

A previously much-praised employee, Jespersen was fired in 2000 after the firm instituted a "Beverage Department Image Transformation" program and she sued, alleging sex discrimination.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling in favor of Harrah's. All three judges are males appointed by Democratic presidents.

"We have previously held that grooming and appearance standards that apply differently to women and men do not constitute discrimination on the basis of sex," Judge Wallace Tashima wrote for the majority.

He cited the precedent of a 1974 case in which the court ruled that a company can require men to have short hair but allow long hair on women.

Okay, let it be known that I think that anti-beard policies are also sexist claptrap that have no place in dress codes at school or in the workplace. But then again, I think most dress codes are so much bullshit. I've had to deal with potential employers who think I wear too many earrings, even though my seven small silver hoops have nothing on some large, garish earrings that some women wear.

But requiring make-up is pure, unadulterated crap. How do you even write such a policy? What is the requisite amount of make-up? Would it have been fine if she put a little cover-up under her eyes and left it at that? A touch of mascara? Or do you specify eyeliner, lipstick, foundation, powder, mascara, and blush? Unlike shaving a beard, which is a one-size-fits-all requirement, make-up is an individualized art. I wear a little cover-up, powder, a touch of eyeshadow, a touch of mascara and then bright red lipstick. Without the lipstick, you couldn't even tell I was wearing make-up.

Much of the time, wearing make-up is an art of hiding that you are doing so in the first place. I can wear half my make-up cabinet worth of make-up and no one would notice unless I had on lipstick. So what's the proof here? A visible zit doesn't mean that she isn't sporting eyeliner or that her foundation didn't wear down. Some women don't wear a bunch of shit on their eyes because they already have big, round peepers and don't feel they need enhancement. A general requirement cannot be anything but subjective, up to the manager's discretion about how much make-up a woman "needs".

I think more than anything, the idea of "needing" make-up gets on my nerves. I cannot tell you how many men have attempted to flatter me by telling me I don't "need" make-up, implying that there are women who apparently do "need" make-up. For what? Who knows? I always felt like I "needed" as much make-up as the next woman because I flush easily and have occasional zits, so I like to even out my skin tone. But god knows I would never wear blush. Does a pale woman who wear blush "need" make-up more than I do?

The vagueness of the requirement points to its sexism. It's assumed that all women are lacking in some way and that we carefully calculate what our flaws are and "correct" them with make-up. There's no standard other than to say that a woman who rejects this notion that her primary duty is to count out her flaws and "correct" them is lacking in her proper femininity. Shrugging your shoulders and saying, "Well, I don't really think that there's a good reason to wear make-up," isn't being properly ashamed of your inadequate femininity.

And, as a fan of make-up, I have to say these requirements are insulting. Make-up is artful and fun. It shouldn't be treated as a corrective, but as a game, and therefore completely voluntary. I generally don't wear make-up, which means that when I do, it's because it's a special time. And I'd like to keep it that way.

522 Comments:

Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

*Right wing alert*

Sorry, had to post a disclaimer, so you can pop a heart pill before reading this:

Frankly, I think this employer is probably instituting a stupid policy. However, as a libertarian, I have to believe that this employer has *EVERY RIGHT* to implement stupid policies. And if you don't like it, you have *EVERY RIGHT* not to visit or work at his establishments.

Is Harrah's being sexist? Sure. Then organize a widely-publicized boycott of Harrahs, make sure that every woman who's planning a trip to Vegas, Reno, or other Harrah's-owned properties chooses a different location. In our information-rich society, I'm sure you can get enough grassroots support to take a little chunk out of Harrah's pocketbook, and that's all you need to do.

But sue someone because they force you to wear makeup? I think that's a little overboard. Harrah's is a private business. As such, they should have their own ability to choose who to employ, what rules need to be followed in their establishment, etc. This lady was not a slave, forced into servitude. If she doesn't like the requirements, there are other places to work.

12/29/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

Yo, no one is disputing his rights. But if you have the right to be a complete asshole, by golly I have the right to call you a complete asshole. And that's why I have a problem with many libertarians. They want to defend your right to be an asshole but get squeamish if someone demands the right to call you one.

12/29/2004

 
Blogger zuzu said...

But sue someone because they force you to wear makeup? No, she sued because she got fired after 20 years of being a well-regarded employee because she didn't want to wear makeup. Big difference.

I'd be interested in reading the opinion to see the reasoning. There are some cases in which a grooming requirement falls more heavily on certain groups than others (I can remember a furor about 15 years ago when a newspaper in Connecticut instituted a dress code which required all employees to wear underwear -- it was a neutral requirement, but who's going to check to see if a man's wearing boxers?), but in general, unless it's a true burden, these things aren't really going to be considered discrimination by the courts.

Also, gender is not a protected class like race, so the standards are a bit lower. Even in the case of race -- the beard thing is a perfect example because black men often have ingrown hairs from shaving -- sometimes a grooming issue isn't considered discriminatory (as in the case of, IIRC, the Chicago FD's ban on beards due to their interference with the seal on air masks).

12/29/2004

 
Blogger FoolishOwl said...

Yo, no one is disputing his rights.Actually, that's exactly the point of a lawsuit: disputing the legal right of the employer to implement a sexist policy.

Many employers require employees to dress and behave in certain (and sexist) ways -- without writing down the specifics. Here was a case in which the specifics were written down. The legal victory for the defendant means that all those other instances of sexist policy have been reinforced -- making it even harder to find a job where one isn't required to conform to sexist standards.

It's simply not the case that someone can simply walk away from one job to a better one. Most people are one paycheck away from disaster, and can't risk unemployment.

12/29/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

True, I guess I was disputing his rights, at least be defending her suit. I guess the real frustration here is how the libertarian argument treats employer rights as sacrosanct, but employee rights as not. In this case, the employer is assumed to have the right to change the terms of employment after 20 years, not the employee.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

Requiring makeup is also in effect lowering her pay, as she must funnel her take-home pay into buying makeup, something men are not required to do.

I think the employer was argueing that makeup was part of the "uniform". Now, uniforms generally serve two purposes: either as a safety requirement (hardhat, steel-toed boots, etc.) or a identification (police, etc.). I don't see where makeup provides for a safer worksite, nor do I think a customer would have any trouble figuring out who the bartender was even if she wasn't wearing makeup.

I thought this was a bullshit decision. Grooming and appearance standards different for men and women not discriminatory? Bullshit. If it doesn't serve a safety purpose (like the air masks), there's no reason for it.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Roxanne said...

Because I grew up in Southern California, I knew a number of kids who worked summer jobs at theme parks, movie studios and other public attractions. You should have seen their list of grooming requirements! But, I don't remember any of them, other than kids who worked as performers, have a make-up requirement.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger emjaybee said...

If I were her or her lawyer, I might try to argue against it on health grounds. Constantly wearing makeup 40 or more hours a week can be bad for your skin (it was for me). And yes, how much is enough? Could she get away with just eyeliner? Or did she have to wear base/powder/blush/lipstick? What if doing so made her face break out and caused acne scars? Could she get worker's comp to pay for her dermatologist then?

And what if her religious or spiritual beliefs made it wrong for her to wear makeup?

Makeup is not a uniform (unless you're a performer, perhaps), or even a hygiene/grooming issue, which is why I don't buy the libertarian argument. I don't think beards are either, unless maybe they reach ZZ Top lengths and get in the way of a food service worker. If anything, makeup is dirtier than no makeup; it rubs off on your shirt, gets in your eyes, smears on your teeth. A woman who's been sweating with makeup on all day is actually less neat and tidy looking than a woman who didn't wear any. This is just sexism. Men aren't required to cover their faces with grease to appear in public, no matter how wrinkly and pimpled they are.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

So what right does an employer have to fire an employee? Let's say this wasn't a makeup issue. Let's say this woman's boss came into work with a bad mood, she was the first person he saw, so he fired her to make himself feel better.

Is that okay? Does an employer have a right to fire an employee at will? Does an employee have a right to quit at will? Where is the balance of power here?

The way I look at it, the employer has the money, the employee wants the money. If the employer decides that he is no longer willing to give money for the employee's services, so be it. If the employee decides that he is no longer willing to do what is required to receive that money, so be it. Since when does there need to be a rational reason for it?

12/30/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Harrah's buffet waitress contacted me a year and a half ago about this policy (which requires a full face of makeup, all of it, not just a little mascara and lipgloss) and I was going to pursue it on her behalf but she backed out to keep her job. I can't blame her but I would have been interested in testing the law in these parts. My initial research suggested that mandatory makeup fell in between permissible grooming standards and discriminatory grooming requirements. We probably would have lost but it's an interesting and infuriating issue.
holly

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Fred Vincy said...

Brad,

As a legal matter, employment at will means that you can fire someone for any reason, including that you're in a bad mood -- with the exception of an illegal reason, such as discrimination. Is your view that it would also be OK for Harrah's to simply decide -- hey, let's fire all the women? If so, then at least you are being consistent.

However, even a consistent libertarian defense of Harrah's right to fire women (or women or who choose not to wear makeup) is problematic as applied because Harrah's partakes heavily of government subsidies -- including (off the top of my head) limited liability, police protection (essential in the casino business), exclusion of competitors from the market through licensing requirements, the right to enforce contracts in court, services provided to victims of gambling addiction, etc. Even if there is a reasonable libertarian argument to be made in favor of a small mom & pop business being allowed to hire whomever it wants (and small companies are exempt from much antidiscrimination law), that argument does not translate well to a large corporation in a modern, interconnected marketplace.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger jeff said...

*warning--ex-libertarian alert*

Brad--

I liked your right wing alert warning, and the spirit with which you make your point. It's actually suprisingly difficult to find anybody who is fairly right wing (at least regarding some things--I'm assuming as a libertarian that you're not right wing regarding, say, censorship of pornography) who will discuss things in an intelligent, thoughtful way.

I used to believe exactly what you wrote in your comment, but the problem, as I see it, with that position is this: while people 'always have an option' in an existentialist sense, they don't always have an option realistically.

In addition, I always like to point out that both the libertarian and the 'traditional leftie' points of view believe that there ought to be SOME regulation of business--you don't, I assume, advocate the position that a business has a right to, say, buy human slaves who have the right to make a choice about whether they want to try to escape, work, or be killed. That is, what we are talking about it drawing lines--and it's pretty safe to say that we all think there are at least SOME lines that need to be drawn. As such, one can't just come out and say that a business has a right to do x without explaining why one thinks that right falls on the 'correct' side of the line.

The discussion Amanda (and the other people commenting) initiated is about where that line is.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Earnest said...

Don't you realize you're walking right into the libertarian argument for a limited government? Regardless, I'm inclined to agree with the libertarian opinion here. A private employer should have the prerogative to institute a dress code and require employees to follow it. If those employees have a problem with the dress code, the solution is to have a strong union capable of negotiating the dress code with Harrah's.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

Fred, I think you've hit a big can of worms.

Granted, in your statement you mention that people can be fired for all but *illegal* reasons, such as discrimination. I don't think discrimination should be illegal. ***For all you listening, by the way, I DO THINK it is immoral, but not that it should be illegal.*** If Harrah's wants to fire all the women, they have a right to. So yes, I'm a consistent libertarian on this.

Then, you open up a whole can of worms by bringing in government preferences, protections, etc into this. Government licensing of casinos, government regulation and subsidies, etc. The answer to all of that? Get the government out of licensing and subsidizing business as well. The whole point of libertarianism is *not* to prop up employers rights, it's to *restrict governments usurpation of individual or business rights*. The government tells casinos, "Hey, since we have gone and made gambling illegal for anyone except the monopoly we support, here's a 300-page book of rules that you now have to follow because we've let you in on that monopoly". Take government out of the picture (as libertarians would argue), and it takes the meat out of your argument. A consistent libertarian philosophy does not have government subsidising, licensing, or regulating business.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

Jeff,
Most people, right or left wing, can't argue their way out of a paper bag... Most of the left-wingers I know in my personal life don't have good debate skills, so I have to search out opponents on the internet ;-)

To your point, yes, I agree that we are all looking at certain lines drawn, and that in a lot of ways, there does need to be a line drawn somewhere. Any libertarian will argue that the line is a long way away from where it legitimately should be.

I do disagree with your point that someone does not have the option to quit. Granted, that person may have to stick it out 2-3 months before they can find a new job, but the options *are* there. The point at which I'll agree with you is in economically undeveloped areas, where perhaps there is only one major employer or industry supporting a town. In that case, the option may not be there, but that is an extreme case. As a bartender in Reno, NV, there are plenty of other opportunities available, specifically for someone with 20 years of experience.

Last, the argument about slavery does not apply. Employment is a mutual contract between employee and employer. Human slavery is *NOT* a mutual contract. There is not a valid analogy between the two.

12/30/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Libertarians seem hell-bent on ignoring even the grossest power disparities between individuals (or between individuals and corporations).

I'm reminded of this.

"I do disagree with your point that someone does not have the option to quit. Granted, that person may have to stick it out 2-3 months before they can find a new job, but the options *are* there."

2-3 months is an awfully long time to be without an income.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

"2-3 months is an awfully long time to be without an income."

Perhaps I didn't explain myself properly. My bad. My point was *not* to quit, and *then* try to look for another job. My point was to stick it out, wear the makeup, while getting her resume out there. Once she gets a new job, then quit.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger supergee said...

My favorite thought on makeup comes from my lj friend firecat (female): "The notion of having to put on a clown face every day to come across as properly female is scary."

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Fred Vincy said...

Brad,

My point was not that you favor all those other regulations -- I'm sure you don't -- but that they exist, and there is something troubling about the idea that we pick out the most vulnerable people (here a low level employee) to bear the brunt of a libertarian preference, while leaving the major players, like Harrah's unaffected. This women is really out of a job -- but the idea that Harrah's will lose all of those government protections is not a realistic possibility. So my point was not that a consistently libertarian-organized society would be less just than ours -- maybe it would not -- but that a libertarian defense of Harrah's in the society we have doesn't succeed.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

Earnest, this isn't an issue of an employer's right to have a dress code; this is an issue of whether the employer has a right to require women to do more than men, for the same pay.

Yes, I said, do more. Putting on a full face of makeup can take between 20-30 minutes. Women must show up on the job with this makeup on. So, that means there is from 20-30 minutes of unpaid labor going on. And instead of enjoying a break after four hours of work, that woman must go into the bathroom and re-do her makeup.

Am I missing something here? Is there anything in bartending that makes makeup essential? Does the presence or absence of makeup on the bartender make the drinks taste differently, or make them easier or harder to pour? What about efficiency? Does makeup make the mixology go a little faster? I mean, for crying out loud, what's wrong with judging an employee for actual job performance, rather than appearance?!

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

La Lubu, the theory is that men are more likely to become return customers to place where the women are attractive. It's still assumed that men's desires are the only thing worth considering, I guess. And it's assumed that make-up is required to make a woman attractive, too, I guess.

I think then we have a fair compromise for the libertarians. Your business gets to discriminate as long as you do not use roads, courts, police, employees educated in the public school system or in universities that receive any government money, the water system, the sewer system, the garbage system, or the fire department. If you provide all these things for yourself, then go ahead and do what you want.

12/30/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My first thought was: clown makeup! bright red circles on the cheeks, impossible shaped mouth, maybe some hearts or butterflies on the cheeks as well, and those big black circles around the eyes. And then a variety of other stage makeups. I might try Darth Sul (or whatever his name was in Star Wars I). Or Kiss, the rock group. or, stick-on warts or scars. Or, those little squiggles the Star Trek DS9 character had. The things you can do, with a little theatrical paint and skills. Or, half the face.

But of course the real reason she was fired was more likely due to her boss wanting the job for his new girlfriend/mistress.
NancyP

12/30/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brad, it might be an employer qualification to have you bartend or wait tables in nothing but a thong, since there are undoubtedly gay male customers at that casino who expect and deserve to see a little ass. Still feel there is nothing discriminatory?

12/30/2004

 
Blogger jeff said...

Brad,

Well, my own 'search for opponents on the internet', limited though it may be, has so far only turned up people who use inflammatory language, people who aren't looking to discuss things, etc. I wonder if you've had a similar experience.

I concede that the person in question, and lots of other people who are in similar situations, do have as an option getting another job. What I'm trying to get across (awkwardly, I admit) is that it may be quite difficult to do so--and, to combine my point with part of Fred's, why must the burden to do so be placed on the worker's shoulders, just so that the employer can exercise it's 'right' to fire anybody?

Actually, given your position on 'economically underdeveloped areas', you and I may not really disagree about the fundamentals, here (although we certainly have lost sight of the sexism involved, which was the point of the original post--sorry, Amanda)--it may be that we just disagree about what ought to count as 'economically underdeveloped areas'. I would hazard a guess that a person who's been a bartender for 20 years for the same company actually isn't particularly hirable in that field--there is plenty of age discrimination and (as has been pointed out) sexism in that industry (I have a friend who is a bartender, but not in NV, so I'm just going on her info) to keep her from securing another job.

Still, you might respond that she should get a different KIND of job, if that's what she's running into, etc. But that's where we get into the question of line-drawing: How far should she have to go just so her employer can have its 'right'? I think not so far. You may think that she has to go very far.

Which brings me to my (rather, obvious, perhaps trite) slavery analogy: My point is to say that the ability to have a 'mutual contract' is a difference in degree, not in kind. Meaning, the slave is a limiting case of being able to have a mutual contract--slavery isn't mutual. Indentured servitude is slightly more mutual. Working at fast-food restaraunt is quite a bit more mutual, etc. But 'mutual' must always include the larger economic picutre--the possibilities for work must, in my opinion, be better than what I see this woman is facing.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger jeff said...

Ernest--

I think your point about unions is a great one. I'm curious to hear what Amanda, Brad, Fred and everybody thinks about that...of course, I have no idea what the union situation is for bartenders in NV.

On the other hand, I don't think I was walking into any libertarian argument at all--I was trying to point out the oft-forgotten point that EVEN libertarians think that some government intervention is good, in certain circumstances.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger jeff said...

Fred--

You make good, interesting points.

I'm just sayin.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger jeff said...

Amanda--

As an ex-libertarian, I have to shout out a non-religious "Amen" to your comment about roads and the like. My first exposure to liberarianism was given by a prof who--I love the irony--worked for a CSU (California State University).

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

"I concede that the person in question, and lots of other people who are in similar situations, do have as an option getting another job. What I'm trying to get across (awkwardly, I admit) is that it may be quite difficult to do so--and, to combine my point with part of Fred's, why must the burden to do so be placed on the worker's shoulders, just so that the employer can exercise it's 'right' to fire anybody?"

If you want to go there, then if I am an employer, and my employee wants to quit, do I have a legal right to keep them employed for 6 months so I can find a suitable replacement? Or can they just quit? Why is the burden of finding and training a replacement be placed on they employer, shouldn't they have some recourse to make sure they have enough time to do so? After all, it's probably rather difficult for an employer to replace the output of a bartender with 20 years experience, right? Why should that burden be on the employer, just so the employee can exercise their 'right' to quit?

This is my point about a mutual contract. You cannot dictate the terms to your employer, just as your employer cannot dictate the terms to you. If both parties cannot reach suitable terms, both parties have the ability to end the contract.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

"I think then we have a fair compromise for the libertarians. Your business gets to discriminate as long as you do not use roads, courts, police, employees educated in the public school system or in universities that receive any government money, the water system, the sewer system, the garbage system, or the fire department. If you provide all these things for yourself, then go ahead and do what you want."

If you provide all these things for yourself, the government is still going to try to regulate you, charging that not using these things affects interstate commerce :-P

But seriously, let's take your argument to the logical conclusion. Since you, as an individual, have been educated by the public schools, use public roads and utilities (etc etc), does not the government have the same right to regulate you? Perhaps they should determine where you can work, or how much money you can make? Maybe they should determine a maximum or minimum number of kids you can have, because if you have 10, it discriminates against those people who have none, and have to pay taxes to support government schools.

The logical conclusion of that argument is that if you participate in what the government gives you, you have no right to complain about what they say you can or can't do. It is the *very existence* of this argument that causes libertarians to fight government involvement in just about everything. The more you depend on government to provide for you, the larger claim government has to dictate your behavior, does it not?

12/30/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you want to go there, then if I am an employer, and my employee wants to quit, do I have a legal right to keep them employed for 6 months so I can find a suitable replacement? Or can they just quit? Why is the burden of finding and training a replacement be placed on they employer, shouldn't they have some recourse to make sure they have enough time to do so?"

Again (and as usual) you're ignoring the power imbalance at work. Particularly for a large organisation, the departure of one employee will not make or break the business. That's why we have unions and strikes (and why large corporations work so hard to stop union activity). It's not a level playing field; this woman likely needs her paycheque a LOT more than the employer needs her.

There are standards regarding notice; at minimum, employees who don't live up to those standards don't get good references, which hampers their attempts to get hired elsewhere.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

I absolutely agree that Harrah's-Reno needs to be unionized. Found some interesting information here and here. More information on Harrah's draconian "personal appearance standards" can be found here.

It appears that back in 2000, female employees who gave birth were required to fit back into their prepregnancy uniforms in eight weeks (the time it took me to recover from my c-section before I was medically released for work or exercise), regardless of whether or not they were nursing. That has now been extended to six months. Other than that, the only time Harrah's employees are allowed to alter their uniform is after breast augmentation surgery.

Fuck that; that company will never get one thin dime of my money. Harrah's claims they are "branding" the company. I'm branding them, too---they're ASSHOLES. Wanna gamble? Try your luck at the Mohegan Sun line of casinos; they just require their employees to be clean and well-groomed--no makeup or hairstyle requirements.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

You can pretty much sum up libertarian philosophy as "I've got mine, to hell with the rest of ya." There is absolutely no concept of social responsibility, or what we used to call civic responsibility.

I mean, really: "the more you depend on government to provide for you, the larger claim government has to dictate your behavior". Nope. Doesn't follow. First of all Brad, you speak like "government" is some mysterious dark force out of some existential novel. Do you live in the United States? Do you not vote? Do you not have the right to communicate with your representatives? Do you not realize that we have labor laws at the request of, and demand of the people, in response to the excesses of big business? Do you not realize that we have safety laws on food and drugs at the request of, and demand of the people, in response to the indifference, callousness and greed of big business? Pick up a history book sometime. The "free market" does not solve these problems on its own, because of the massive difference in scale between the "little guy" and the "big guy". Criminy.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

La Lubu, From your link:
"The local chapter of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union has been silent on the policy. The union has been one of Harrah's biggest supporters, flying in casino workers to testify before the General Assembly on how great it is to work for Harrah's. But when asked about Harrah's policy toward workers' appearances last week, Alisa B. Gallo, the union's lobbyist, refused to comment."

Apparently the union thinks that most of what Harrah's is doing with their employment practices is okay. And apparently the employees think that the rest of the job is good enough to present a compelling reason for them to stay, and deal with the "draconian" appearance standards. Obviously they have tough appearance standards. And they have those standards, because it appears that it increases the money they make.


Regarding your thoughts on the government, what the people want is immaterial. If 80% of the voters of this country vote to ban gay marriage, does that make it right? If 59% of the country vote to force women to wear burkas, does that make it right? This country was founded on the policy of constitutionally limited government, that does not infringe upon individual rights.

Labor rights will work themselves out in a competitive environment. When government gets too powerful in the labor market, you have France's 35-hour work week and stagnated economic growth. When voters realize they can demand to work less hours and more benefits, they do so, even if it's not in their long-term interests.

If the FDA disappeared tomorrow, we wouldn't have a rush of people out there buying deadly medications. A third-party watchdog group would spring up to monitor, test, and verify that drugs are safe and effective.

After all, do devout Jews need the government to tell them what foods are prepared to Kosher standards? No, kosher food manufacturers have rabbis come in and regularly monitor their practices. Within the corporate world, having the ISO9000 stamp is a big deal to vet your business practices to the world. Does the government come in and grant that? No, a third-party group comes in to regularly monitor compliance. Is the Better Business Bureau a government organization? Nope.

The options facing us are not government or nothing at all, in any of these questions. People will always demand standards and accountability. Frequently, however, the government is the *least* effective way to achieve that.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Brad Warbiany said...

Amanda,
I want to apoligize for hijacking this and turning it into a libertarian debate, that wasn't my intent. For the most part, that was not even the main crux of my argument. I'll try to keep my future dissent a little more on-topic.

All,
I think it is about time to lay this puppy to rest. Obviously I think we're going back and forth on the same points here. But if you all just sat around and agreed with each other, it certainly would have been a boring discussion, right? ;-)

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Amanda said...

I don't care. If anything, the whole thread is making me want to write another blog post about the concept of wearing make-up in and of itself, employment rights aside.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger Lanoire said...

A third-party watchdog group would spring up to monitor, test, and verify that drugs are safe and effective. And who would watch the watchdog group, and hold it accountable?

If the government monitored the drugs, there would be elected officials with a strong interest in making sure that the drugs' safety was thoroughly verified--because they'd take heat and get thrown out of office if it wasn't.

As for this make-up business, La Lubu is absolutely right to say that applying make-up is unpaid labor. Furthermore, as someone else pointed out, it has health and comfort issues, and there are possible religious issues at stake here as well.

12/30/2004

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I worked at Disney Store in the mall they had policies to cover jewelry, clothes, and makeup (specifically color schemes allowed, right down to each kind and nail polish as well).
They even had a policy aobut underwear.

12/30/2004

 
Blogger jeff said...

Thanks for the good discussion, everybody. I'll just echo Anonymous' comment above--the libertarian position ignores power dynamics in a way that I believe is unfair to everybody involved, but particularly (to try to bring the discussion back around to the start) it is unfair to those who are oppressed in whichever way (economically, socially, etc.), which in the particular case we were discussing means a woman who had worked for the company for 20 years--she certainly needed the job more than her employer needed her: That is, as far as I can tell, ALWAYS the case.

12/31/2004

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

Brad, the Harrah's in Reno, where this woman worked, is not unionized. HERE may be in support of this policy, but the Carpenters (who also represent hotel employees) has been very vocal in their opposition to this.

I still think this should be fought as an unfair labor practice for requiring unpaid labor. If Darlene Jespersen were a showgirl instead of a bartender, she'd be getting paid for her makeup time.

12/31/2004

 
Blogger Earnest said...

This unpaid labor argument is ridiculous. Would you argue that showering is unpaid labor? Clipping fingernails? Driving to work? Most jobs I've worked expect you to be in uniform when you start your shift, and most of those jobs provided a facility for getting into uniform. The question here is "Can Harrah's legally articulate a dress code that specifies certain requirements for women?" The answer is an emphatic yes. After all, would you suggest that Harrah's be legally restricted from asking that its female employees wear bras? On what ground? What about asking that its male employees be clean-shaven? A uniform serves many purposes, including helping to distinguish between employees and customers and establishing an identity for the company.

12/31/2004

 
Blogger La Lubu said...

Earnest, are you seriously suggesting that a customer would not be able to tell who the bartender was? That without the makeup, a customer would not be able to tell that the person behind the bar was, in fact, the bartender?! If that's the case, I guess male bartenders just get paid for standing around doing nothing, since all those customers can't tell that they are bartenders---they're not wearing makeup. If a customer can't tell that the person behind the bar, with the Harrah's uniform and name-tag on, is the bartender, they are either too stupid or too drunk to need any more alcohol.

Showering and putting clothes on is something that we all do (well, most of us, anyway), regardless of where or whether we're employed. I'll say it again---if she were a showgirl, she would be paid for her makeup time. She wouldn't be required to show up at work with it on. Harrah's is not asking employees to be reasonably well-groomed. They are asking for above-and-beyond. She was required to put on the same amount of makeup (albeit in less garish colors) as if she were onstage. That is time consuming. And expensive. And requires frequent touch ups. And as others on this thread have pointed out, can be a health issue (not good for skin or eyes).

Customers want to be served by staff that are clean and well-groomed. You'll have a hard time convincing me that the gamblers at Harrah's even notice whether or not their server is wearing makeup.

And I still think it is lowering her pay. She pays for the makeup, after the original company-paid "makeover". Have you checked out the price of makeup? And no, she wouldn't be able to take it off her taxes at the end of the year, since the IRS would say that she could also use it off the job. The IRS has ruled against pantyhose as a deductable expense (some women have tried, because their employers required skirts or dresses, but prohibited bare legs).

Point being, it's not equal treatment. Women are required to do more in order to look "acceptable", and it is completely irrelevant to the job. It's like if the contractors around here started requiring females on the jobsite to wear makeup as a "branding" ploy...but not requiring it of males. Wearing or not wearing makeup wouldn't make me a better electrician, just a messier one (as the makeup would unquestionably start sailing down my face in rivers after the day began). Fuckin-A, I'd file suit over that, if I were fired for an "offense" that a man could not possibly commit!

If a man can be a quality bartender without face goop, so can a woman. She is not receiving equal treatment from the employer.

1/01/2005

 
Blogger Amanda said...

I find it laughable that it's somehow a method to tell the employees from the the customers--most of the female customers will be wearing as much make-up, after all.

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Blogger Earnest said...

Why would you assume that most of the female clientele would be wearing makeup? Isn't that a sexist assumption? Regardless, I will concede that there might be a health issue. I understand that many people are allergic to makeup, and just as I will defend an employee's right to a smoke-free work environment as a health issue, I would suggest that an employee with an allergy should be allowed some leniency. However, that must also be balanced against the employer's right to determine a uniform. Yes, you recognize a bartender as the person behind the bar, but what about when that person steps from behind the bar. Have you ever been out some place and asked someone "Do you work here?" If so, the place you were probably did not have a very distinguishing uniform. For a casino, as for a high-end department store, the employer wishes to instill a sense of elegance and confidence in the customer, and one of the ways they do that is through the appearances of those people who interact with the customer. Harrah's does that by requiring their employees to have a manicured look, above contemporary standards in grooming. The fact is that we find differences between male and female dress codes to be acceptable when those differences are comparable. I think that asking a man to go clean shaven is comparable. Just for the record, it takes me about twenty minutes to shave.

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Blogger La Lubu said...

Earnest, I think that's where the disagreement lies...that some of us do find the differences between Harrah's male and female grooming standards to be bogus. I will readily agree with you that it is reasonable for an employer, especially in the hospitality industry, to require cleanlines and neatness from employees. I would also agree with you that requiring male employees to be clean-shaven is bogus....neatly trimmed, yes. Shaved? Not necessary, and for some people, a health issue. I think it is reasonable for Harrah's to require makeup on stage performers, as part of a costume. I do not think it is reasonable to require a bartender or other wait staff to adhere to a "personal best makeover" picture, engineered and taken by some stylist. Like Amanda, I think the choice to wear makeup or not is a personal one.

Now, since you're a man, you may not be seeing some of the issues here that the women are. Men are just expected to "clean up" to be presentable. Not so for women. And fashions for what is or is not proper female appearance changes from year to year. Remember the highly plucked eyebrows of a few years ago? Now they are out-of-fashion, and some women discovered that their eyebrows have been permanently thinned. Some years "big hair" is in, some years, thin and poker-straight hair is "the" style. And every year, my natural haircolor---black---is out of fashion.

See, we're expected to jump through outrageous hoops, and significantly alter our natural appearance in the name of "fashion". Whose fashion? Why are our natural, female, fresh-faced good looks not enough? Why is a clean face considered not as attractive on women, but is suitable for men?

I brought up my job to illustrate a point....on the construction site, no one is ever going to ask me to put on makeup in order to do my job. It's ridiculuous. I say it's just as ridiculuous to require it of a bartender. It's not necessary to the job at hand. I'm a potential customer of Harrah's (in theory). I don't care if the bartenders are wearing makeup. I want the drinks to be mixed right, and cold, and served promptly. That's what I want out of a bartender, and that's what will garner the big tips. The sheer amount of bad press that Harrah's is getting over this ought to be Clue Number One that this is a stupid policy.

This is an intensely personal issue for a lot of women. Our appearance is nit-picked in ways that a man's appearance is not. A man has the luxury of reading about Darlene Jespersen and thinking "what's the big deal" because he isn't going to have to jump through that ring of fire. She probably resented the policy for quite a while, but needed the job. You know what I think brought the issue to a head for her? That she is now an "older" woman, and the amount of face shellac that Harrah's deemed "appropriate" simply did not look good on her. When you are in your forties or fifties, less is definitely more. Harrah's is the asshole in this case, not Darlene. She's not asking to not do her job, just to do it under the same conditions the men do. What's wrong with that?

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Earnest, that is no more sexist than saying that most women there will be wearing bras. Willful blindness is not a requirement to be non-sexist.

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