‘Tomboy’ sues for sex discrimination

A female employee who claims she was fired because she didn’t have a sufficiently “feminine” appearance can sue for sex discrimination. That’s the word from a federal appeals court in St. Louis.

The woman was hired to work at the front desk of a hotel. She was fired after less than a month on the job, allegedly after a company executive commented that she wasn’t a “good fit” for the front desk because she didn’t have a “Midwestern girl look.”Co-workers described the woman as being “tomboyish” in appearance. She had short hair, preferred to go without makeup, and wore loose-fitting clothing including men’s button-down shirts and slacks.

The woman sued, saying the company illegally required that female employees be “pretty” in order to work at the front desk. The hotel argued that the woman wasn’t treated differently from men who had similar jobs. But the court allowed her suit to go forward. According to the court, “The question is whether [the hotel’s] requirements that [the woman] be ‘pretty’ and have the ‘Midwestern girl look’ were because she is a woman. A reasonable [jury] could find that they were since the terms by their nature apply only to women.”