When Nancy Schromsky was made to take off her bra to squeeze into a skimpy, Roaring '20s flapper costume and pose for pictures, the longtime cocktail waitress at Atlantic City's Resorts Casino Hotel said she felt "disgusted."
She wasn't worried about job security, though.
"I truly thought they were putting us in them to make adjustments, so they would look nice on everyone," the 59-year-old grandmother said yesterday.
The photo shoot, she said, turned out to be an audition, and Resorts' new Roaring '20s theme, inspired by the success of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," won't have much room for flappers in their 50s. Schromsky said she was in her car last month when she was fired over the phone for "not meeting uniform requirements." She still doesn't know what those requirements are.
"I wasn't trying to compete with a 21-year-old, and she can't compete with my people skills. I do a damn good job," she said.
Schromsky, who began working at Resorts in 1978, was one of 15 cocktail waitresses let go a few weeks after the photo shoot, union officials said. An age-discrimination complaint with the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights could be in the works.
Resorts, in a statement, said the new costumes are part of the rebranding process, a way to make the casino "a destination for fun, excitement and a one-of-a-kind experience." The struggling casino was purchased in December for $31.5 million.
"All cocktail servers were given individual consideration and the selection process was conducted in a fair and objective manner," spokeswoman Courtney Birmingham said in a statement.
Schromsky, who wears a size 8, said the photo shoot was a traumatizing process. One woman was crying and broke into hives, she said, and all the pictures were taken from the neck down.
"They told some girls to spread their legs. They told me they needed two shots of my back side," she said. "It was disgusting. It was dehumanizing."
Union officials said the pictures were sent to a modeling agency, which recommended the job cuts.
In 2006, two "Borgata Babes" filed a lawsuit over that casino's weight limit. The case was settled out of court, but Robert McDevitt, president of Unite Here Local 54 in Atlantic City, said that what happened to the "Resorts 15" was far worse.
"No one's been discharged from the Borgata because of the weight limit," he said. "Basically, these women were brought into a room and told they couldn't wear a bra. We will not rest until Resorts is held accountable for the depraved policies they have inflicted on these women."
Birmingham said cocktail servers who lost their jobs were given hiring preference in other jobs there, but some did not take them up on the offer.