In a significant recent decision, Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co., Inc., 444 F.3d 1104 (9th Cir. 2006), the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, affirmed an employer’s right to maintain gender-specific grooming policies under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 so long as such policies neither impose unequal burdens on men and women nor reflect gender-based stereotypes.

The plaintiff in Jespersen was a female bartender working at Harrah’s Reno, Nev., casino who was terminated from her position after 20 years of service because she refused to wear makeup in keeping with Harrah’s newly adopted “Personal Best” grooming policy. By all accounts, she had an otherwise exemplary work record.