Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Joins Lambda Legal's Campaign to Expose Harrah's Firing of a Veteran Bartender Who Said 'No' To Mandatory Make-up

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"Shame on You Harrah's" Campaign gathers steam.
February 27, 2006

(Reno, Nevada, February 27, 2006) — Lambda Legal today announced the addition of the Progressive Leadership Alliance Nevada (PLAN) to the “Shame on You Harrah’s” campaign. The campaign is focused on Harrah’s firing of a veteran bartender, Darlene Jespersen, because she objected to the casino’s strict, mandatory make-up regimen for female employees.


“The addition of our new partner and the gathering momentum in this campaign is one more indication of the price that corporations like Harrah’s will pay if they don’t treat their employees fairly,” said Michael Adams, Director of Education and Public Affairs at Lambda Legal. “We are grateful for the support of PLAN because together we deliver a message: it’s simply unacceptable to force women to dress up like dolls in order to keep their jobs — especially when men doing the same work just have to be neat and clean.”


By joining the campaign, the group will ask their members to sign a petition protesting Harrah’s firing of Darlene Jespersen and will help expand the impact of Lambda Legal’s advertising campaign protesting Harrah’s actions.


“No one should be in fear of losing their job simply because they do not conform to an antiquated idea of what makes women presentable to the public,” said Tara Smith, the Southern Nevada Director of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “If neat and clean is an acceptable way for men to appear while working for Harrah’s and they can still perform their jobs then that standard is acceptable for women as well.”


Lambda Legal’s “Shame on You Harrah’s” campaign already has collected more than 7,000 signatures of people protesting the firing of Jespersen. Strategically placed on-line banner ads about the campaign are targeting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The banner ads provide information about the case and encourage viewers to sign Lambda Legal’s online petition. Banner ads have been placed on LGBT websites like www.lesbianation.com and have previously run on www.outinamerica.com and www.365gay.com. To view the petition, visit http://ga4.org/campaign/BlowtheWhistle_Jespersen. In addition, Lambda Legal has sent an action alert to its members urging them to sign the petition and to encourage friends and family to do so as well.


Lambda Legal represents Darlene Jespersen in a federal sex discrimination lawsuit against Harrah’s Casino. Jespersen was a dedicated, top-performing bartender for Harrah’s in Reno, Nevada for 21 years. But she was fired when she objected to a new appearance code that required women to wear a full regimen of makeup (foundation or powder, blush, mascara and lipstick at all times), applied precisely the same way every day to match a photo of the employee maintained by Harrah’s. Lambda Legal is fighting Harrah’s policy because company rules and co-worker harassment aimed at enforcing rigid gender conformity are a form of sex discrimination that limits job opportunity for many lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people. The case is currently awaiting a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


The lawsuit, Jespersen v. Harrah’s Casino, is being handled by Jennifer C. Pizer, Senior Counsel in Lambda Legal’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles. She is joined by cooperating attorney Ken McKenna in Reno, Nevada.


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Mark Roy 212-809-8585 ext.267

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