A Manhattan judge has ruled that in a case involving a yoga instructor who was fired for being "too cute," her termination did not constitute gender discrimination.
Dilek Edwards, a yoga instructor and massage therapist working in New York City, sued her ex-employer, former Playboy playmate Stephanie Adams. Adams, 45, had fired Edwards after sending her angry text messages, telling the 32-year-old to stay away from her husband, chiropractor Charles Nicolai, the New York Post reports. Edwards' suit claims that she was fired because of unjust discrimination related to being a woman.
Adams, who became famous for being the first openly gay playmate and was Miss November in 1992, allegedly sent a text message to Edwards telling her to "stay the f*** away from my husband and my family!!!!!" after Nicolai admitted to his wife that she might "become jealous" because Edwards was "too cute."
Edwards also said that Nicolai had asked her to give him yoga therapy sessions to help with pain, but that it had to be kept secret from his wife, whom he said would become jealous if she found out.
Edwards maintains that she had a "strictly professional" relationship with Nicolai, but the day after receiving Adams' angry message, Edwards was fired from her job.
"Firing a woman because of a gender-related aspect of her appearance is unlawful discrimination" because "attractiveness is directly tied to … gender," Edwards says in her lawsuit against Adams.
Adams said that she never saw Edwards as a threat to her marriage. "No disrespect to anyone - but I’m a centerfold," said Adams, who says she still identifies as LGBT after having been married to two men and having a son with Nicolai.
Manhattan judge Shlomo Hagler ruled that Edwards' termination could not be considered gender discrimination, because there was no way to know if she would have been treated differently as a man.
"With respect to whether appearance can be the basis of a discrimination claim," said Hagler, "Courts have not found discrimination when the subject conduct or policy was not applied differently to men and women."
Edwards' attorney, D. Maimon Kirschenbaum, pledged an appeal, saying that the termination was in fact a case of gender discrimination.
"It seems to me that it is plainly discriminatory to fire a woman who is too cute or not cute enough or for any other appearance-related reason," said Kirschenbaum.