Human Resources News & Insights

Reporter fired for moonlighting as exotic dancer: Discrimination?

A Houston newspaper reporter moonlighted as an exotic dancer and was fired for it. Does that mean she can sue for gender bias?Sarah Tressler, 30, was a high society and fashion reporter for The Houston Chronicle.

But in her spare time? She worked as an exotic dancer.

Tressler said she undertook the gig for exercise since she didn’t have a gym membership. She also added that she only performed rarely.

But how she spent her nights was more than enough for her newspaper to can her for failing to disclose the job on her employment application.

But Tressler doesn’t think that decision is aboveboard. So she’s hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who’s filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on her behalf. The claim? Gender bias.

Allred’s reasoning: Most exotic dancers are female. Firing a woman for being an exotic dancer, therefore, would have an adverse impact on women — and could be discriminatory.

Molly DiBianca on the Delaware Employment Law Blog says Tressler could have a case. If Tressler can show she was fired for not disclosing her side job but men at the paper weren’t, that might mean trouble for The Houston Chronicle.

At the same time, some newspapers and other media outlets hold journalists to strict standards and workplace policies. If the newspaper has followed its policies consistently, it may be tough for Tressler to emerge victorious.

Tressler’s side gig was found out by a competing alternative weekly paper. It probably didn’t help that she also wrote a blog called “Diary of an Angry Stripper,” where she described her exploits dancing at local strip clubs.

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