14 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol'y 467 (2007)
The Many Faces of Darlene Jespersen

handle is hein.journals/djglp14 and id is 471 raw text is: THE MANY FACES OF DARLENE JESPERSEN

MICHAEL SELMI*
I. INTRODUCTION
Darlene Jespersen worked as a bartender at the Harrah's Casino in the
hardscrabble town of Reno, Nevada. Unlike its glitzier cousin Las Vegas, Reno is
anything but glitzy, with a deteriorating downtown that is thirty years past its
prime. Jespersen began her career at Harrah's-now the largest casino chain in
the world-as a bar back, fetching ice and cutting lemons, and was quickly
promoted to bartender. Twenty years later she remained a bartender in the
Sports bar, creating the kind of long-term career that is all too rare these days.
But the career Jespersen formed came to a halt when Harrah's demanded
that she wear makeup. Jespersen was required to wear makeup at work, in
addition to her uniform, as a part of a company initiative; but she refused to do
so. Jespersen never wore makeup in or out of the workplace-she felt extremely
uncomfortable doing so and also felt it was unnecessary to her job. In her own
words:
I had to become a sex object. And it was only because I am a woman .... The
men who worked by my side did not have to conceal their faces. Harrah's
considers them professional when they look like themselves. Although it had
nothing to do with mixing drinks and handling customers, keeping my job
became more and more about meeting Harrah's extreme and outdated idea of
what a woman should look like.'
When Jespersen held her ground, she was fired. So she sued Harrah's alleging
that the company's makeup constituted gender discrimination in violation of
Title VII.2
These rather straightforward facts demonstrate why this case has garnered
so much attention. Here was a dedicated and, by all accounts, outstanding
employee standing up for principle against a large corporate employer that
imposed what appeared to be an unnecessary and-at least to Jespersen-
demeaning policy. Jespersen sued without the help of a union because this
particular casino was non-unionized, and she refused to budge. She refused to
allow her job to turn her into something she did not want to be.
* Visiting Professor of Law, Boston University Law School, Professor of Law, George
Washington University Law School.
1. Darlene Jespersen, Op-Ed., Case Is About Civil Rights and Sex Bias, RENO GAZETrE-J., Feb. 5,
2004, at 11A.
2. See Jespersen v. Harrah's Operating Co., Inc., 444 F.3d 1104 (9th Cir. 2006) (en banc). The
case is thoroughly discussed in Devon Carbado et al., The Jespersen Story: Makeup and Women at Work,
in EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION STORIES (Joel Win. Friedman ed., 2006).

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