By Jess Christensen, Employment Law Correspondent
A while ago, I wrote about Kimberlee Ouwroulis and Barbara Sanders, both Canadian exotic dancers in their mid-40s who sued the club that fired them for being too old. Now the can you be too old to work at a strip club? debate comes to America.
The EEOC has filed a lawsuit against Houston’s Cover Girls club on behalf of former waitress Mary Bassi, alleging that the club engaged in age discrimination when it fired her in 2006. At the time of her termination, Bassi was 56 years old, and had worked for the club since 1993. According to reports (the complaint itself does not appear to be available online), club managers called Bassi “old” and teased her about entering into menopause and showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the EEOC attorney handling the case, Bassi had been a high earner until the club started to assign prime shifts to younger waitresses. Attorneys for the club have so far declined to comment on the case. Bassi now works as a waitress for a competitor club—though, competition isn’t stiff (heh), since Cover Girls burnt down in 2007 and hasn’t yet been rebuilt.As talked about in my earlier post, an employee’s age cannot be considered as a factor in any employment decision, unless age is a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ)—i.e., that age is relevant to the essential functions of the job. While strip club employers will undoubtedly argue that age relates to beauty, and beauty is certainly an essential qualification for adult entertainment establishments such as strip clubs, they might do well to consider the case of Tempest , who at age 81, is still a crowd pleaser. Although Storm has semi-retired after more than 50 years as a stripper and burlesque dancer, she still makes headliner appearances at such legendary venues as San Francisco’s O’Farrell Brothers Theater and performs frequently in Las Vegas, stripping down to a sheer bra and G-string in front of cheering, packed houses. Storm
And now for a little Friday afternoon entertainment…