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October 23, 2014

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Last cocktail waitress in weight lawsuit against Mirage settles

The last of 11 cocktail waitresses who filed suit against The Mirage based on allegations that their jobs were threatened because they were overweight agreed to a settlement Tuesday.

Charlotte Arrowsmith and the other cocktail waitresses who worked at The Mirage and the Golden Nugget had alleged that the former owner of the casinos, Steve Wynn, had created a hostile work environment.

Wynn allegedly singled out the waitresses by calling them to a 1995 meeting where the waitresses said Wynn informed them that they were too fat to serve drinks, and that he would transfer them to other positions if they didn't lose weight.

Mark Russell, vice president and general counsel for The Mirage, said that the details of the resolution are confidential. Arrowsmith, who was the last plaintiff who hadn't reached a settlement, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The federal suit, which was filed against Mirage Resorts Inc., now part of MGM MIRAGE, stated that stress affected the woman emotionally and physically. The majority of the waitresses were over 40 years old.

The waitresses had earlier complained to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about The Mirage's employment policies. The complaints to the EEOC included allegations the waitresses were pressured to lose weight, and a policy that requires waitresses to wear high heels ranging from 1 1/2 to 3 inches high.

U.S. District Judge Lloyd George dismissed the claims of adverse effects from the weight and high heel policies in 2001, citing the EEOC's lack of specific findings regarding the issues. He did not, however, dismiss the claim that the resorts were hostile work environments.

The case was not the only instance in which cocktail waitresses have clashed with casino operators over appearance issues. In a case that ended in July 2000, six cocktail waitresses settled with the Imperial Palace over alleged discrimination because they were pregnant.

Two of the women were represented by private attorneys and did not reveal any details of the settlement, but the other four received a total of $105,000 from the Imperial Palace, officials with the EEOC said.

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