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By: Thomas Paschos, Esq.
Thomas Paschos & Associates, P.C.
Haddonfield, New Jersey

In Schiavo v. Marina District Development Company, LLC, D/B/A Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa, ___ A.3d ___, ___ N.J.Super. ___ (A.D. September 17, 2015), Plaintiffs, twenty-one women who are present or former employees of defendant Marina District Development Company, LLC, operating as the Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa, appealed from the summary judgment dismissal of their complaint alleging violations of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD). Plaintiffs alleged defendant's adoption and application of personal appearance standards (the PAS) subjected them to illegal gender stereotyping, sexual harassment, disparate treatment, disparate impact, and as to some plaintiffs, resulted in adverse employment actions.

The court examined the claims and found that the PAS requirements were permitted by N.J.S.A. 10:5-12(p), a provision allowing an employer to establish reasonable employee appearance standards and the LAD does not encompass allegations of discrimination based on weight, appearance, or sex appeal. The court held that the evidence did not support plaintiffs' claims of gender stereotyping, disparate treatment, and disparate impact. However, the record did present a material dispute of facts regarding defendant's application of the PAS weight standard to harass certain plaintiffs whose lack of compliance resulted from documented medical conditions and post-pregnancy, thus targeting them because of their gender. As to those claims, the court reversed summary judgment and the matter was remanded.

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