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Lynne Curry: Bikini barista bugged by skeeters, dudes, boss

Q. I took a job as a bikini-clad barista thinking it would be a lark. It’s not. Mosquitoes bite every square inch unless I drown myself in Deet and guys get out of their truck and get way too close to “see what you got up close and personal.”

The job, however, was the only one I could get that lets me keep my class schedule and also the tips are great. I went to the owner and asked if I could cover up, at least when the customers are fewer, and he said bikinis were what brought the customers in. We argued and then he fired me.

My professor said I should sue for sex harassment. True?    


A. Clearly some of your customers sexually harassed you. Can you sue the owner, as he exposed you to the problem? Not if you took the job with your eyes wide open.  

When 22 female cocktail servers sued Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa for sex discrimination claiming that wearing skimpy, provocative costumes exposed them to humiliating treatment, they lost their case. According to Superior Court judge Nelson Johnson, the women knew what they were getting into when hired, given that they auditioned for the job wearing the revealing costumes and serving drinks to faux customers.

The servers also sued for weight discrimination, because the casino fired any server who gained more than 7 percent over what she weighed when hired unless she had a valid medical reason. Johnson dismissed this claim as well, stating the servers agreed to this requirement when hired.

Your best recourse? Get a job, potentially in a grocery store that can accommodate your class schedule, allows you to wear clothes and where you don’t have to swat mosquitoes.  

Q. Two days ago when I searched my purse for my watch, I couldn’t find it. At first I thought maybe it dropped out of my purse. But then I remembered returning from a Rotary meeting, putting the watch in an inside purse pocket as usual and zipping up the pocket. I hadn’t needed the watch since then and the purse had only been in my trunk or on the back shelf in my office.   

Still, I didn’t think anyone had taken my watch until the next day when I looked in my purse for a Restaurants Unlimited gift certificate I wanted give a friend for her birthday. That too was missing. So was a Barnes & Noble gift certificate. I couldn’t avoid an ugly truth; someone had taken these things from my purse.

I suddenly remembered the day after Rotary when I’d walked into my office and saw an employee standing near the shelf where I keep my purse. “I was just checking to see if you were there” she said. At the time I’d wondered, “Couldn’t you have seen I wasn’t here from the door sill?”

In short, I suspect this individual; however, she recently handed in her two week notice and will soon leave our workplace. What should I do?


A. Ask her about the time you saw her in your office — if you think it will do any good.

It probably won’t. In fact, it may create harm. If you unfairly suspect her — after all, it’s only circumstantial that you saw her in your office before you noticed missing items — your question may put her on the defensive or infuriate her.

Worse, your questioning, no matter how gentle, may offend other employees as well. Given you don’t suspect anyone else — will you question them? If not, can you justify singling out this one employee? When you start asking potential theft-related questions, you ring a bell that can’t be unrung. Move forward only if the potential benefit outweighs the risks.  



Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to and follow Lynne on Twitter @lynnecurry10.