Maine strip club fired waitress because she is black: agency

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 14, 2011 5:33 PM
Maine strip club fired waitress because she is black: agency

By Jason McLure

LITTLETON, New Hampshire (Reuters) - A Maine strip club wrongfully fired a waitress because she is black, the state civil rights commission said, and the agency told the club it may have to offer compensation or rehire her.

The Maine Human Rights Commission, which investigated the case, said PT's Showclub in Portland should not have fired Cecilia Smith, who was hired in February 2010.

At the time, the club's manager was away. When the manager returned a week later and saw Smith, he fired her. Smith was initially told it was because she was overweight, according to the report.

When Smith pointed out that other workers were bigger than her, a supervisor told her, "I'll be very blunt with you, your weight and your skin complexion is not the image that the boss wants to have in this club."

PT's Showclub said Smith was dismissed because she "did not meet the minimum appearance qualifications especially concerning weight and beauty," and that she could reapply for her job if she lost weight.

The club did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

The agency said the club and Smith must meet in mediation to try to reach a settlement. If they are unable to agree, the state agency may join Smith in filing a lawsuit against the club, said Cindy Albert, a case controller with the Maine Human Rights Commission.

The club is part of a chain of adult entertainment venues owned by Colorado-based VCG Holdings, according to a report by the state agency.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)