Gender Discrimination for Stripper Past: Some Claims are Bogus But Choose Your Path Carefully

Posted on May 15, 2012


The Houston Chronicle fired reporter Sarah Tressler when another publication revealed that Tressler has worked as, and still occasionally works as, a stripper.  The basis for the termination was the omission of previous work history on Tressler’s job application, as she did not reveal the exotic-dancing employment on her application to the Chronicle.  The ubiquitous Gloria Allred differs, saying that the termination amounts to gender discrimination.  “Most exotic dancers are female, and therefore to terminate an employee because they had previously been an exotic dancer would have an adverse impact on women, since it is a female-dominated occupation,” she claims.

Uh… I disagree.  The paper did not terminate Tressler for being an exotic dancer.  They terminated her for lying (or omitting to disclose employment) on her job application.  Lots of employers have this rule and the character of the lie or omission on the application is moot.  A past arrest, resume-padding, or inaccuracies in employment history… you are outta there.  Why?  Because inaccurate applications interfere with their ability to make the best hiring decisions.  It’s dishonest, and it hurts the employer.

But in the kind of lame reasoning that seems to pervade the Millennial workforce, Tressler says she had been doing a good job at the paper, and “There was no question on the form that covered my dancing. I answered the questions on the form honestly.”  Oh, please.  The “question” would have been in that section where you are supposed to list your employment history.  All of it.  And most especially if you are still moonlighting at your outside job, and blogging about it under the rubric Diary of an Angry Stripper.  But, okay, let’s ask why Tressler did not reveal the stripper job on her application.  If she was embarrassed about it, then why would she think that her employer might not be equally embarrassed by it?  If she thought the employer might not hire her if they knew, then she willfully hid her history and impeded her employer’s decision-making process.  No matter how she cuts it, she was dishonest in the application process, and most employers do not take kindly to that.

Tressler goes on to say that past work as an exotic dancer should not jeopardize women’s future careers.  In general, I agree, but this argument is specious in her case because her work as a stripper was not “in the past.”  She was still working occasionally as a stripper while also employed by the Chronicle.  I think it’s within an employer’s rights to insist that their employees not engage in certain outside employment or activities that they think could discredit their company.  Just because something is legal does not mean that everyone agrees that it is moral.  Company owners have a right to enforce a certain standard within their companies.  And no one has an absolute right to have the job of their choice.

Moreover, Tressler says that she was trying to pay for college and didn’t think the stripper job would ultimately hurt her future career.  We will probably never know for sure what really motivated the Chronicle to fire Tressler – dishonesty, or the stripper job – but sadly, sometimes past employment in certain jobs will hurt your future career.  How many times recently have we seen teachers called out because someone discovered their past as a porn star?  There is nothing illegal about doing porn, but parents generally don’t want their kids cruising the internet for naked videos of their teachers.

The moral of the story goes back to the miniskirt article, in a way:  if you want to be all about sex, then you will be all about sex.  Dancing topless in spike heels and a g-string is quick money, but at the cost of one’s image.  Life is choices.  Opening one door often closes others.   So, ladies, choose those doors carefully.