- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

ANNAPOLIS — Federal officials have filed a lawsuit on behalf of a breast-cancer survivor who says a Kent Island bar fired her for not wearing a skimpy top.

The bar, the Red Eye’s Dock Bar in Grasonville, Md., is accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act for not waiving its uniform policy to accommodate Margaret Finley, a bartender who asked to be excused from the restaurant’s policy calling for tight tank tops on female employees.

“Finley had requested a reasonable accommodation to be excused from the bar’s dress-code policy, which required that she wear a scanty ‘tankini’ top. Her request to be excused from the ‘tankini’ requirement resulted in her termination,” according to a statement yesterday from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in Baltimore, which filed the lawsuit.

The waterfront bar, which promotes summertime bikini contests, did not respond to a call for comment.

Commission lawyer Debra Lawrence said Miss Finley, 55, had worked at Red Eye’s for 11 years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent chemotherapy, radiation and a lumpectomy before returning to work in 2006.

Miss Lawrence said Miss Finley asked to wear a hat to cover her hair loss, but management refused, so Miss Finley worked bareheaded. When a new policy requiring bartenders to wear the tight tank tops was instituted, Miss Finley asked not to wear one and was fired, Miss Lawrence said.

“She was nearly bald, and when she requested that she wear a cap to hide her baldness, the employer refused, so she dealt with it. She didn’t wear a cap,” Miss Lawrence said. But when the tankini policy was announced, “it didn’t cover her disfigurement.”

“There were scars from radiation, from her lumpectomy,” Miss Lawrence said. “She really didn’t want to go around baring evidence of her treatments.”

The lawsuit, filed Friday, seeks back pay plus unspecified damages. Miss Lawrence said Miss Finley, who splits her time between Chester, Md., and Florida, has gotten another job, but would prefer to be reinstated at Red Eye’s.

“It’s something that she does and does well,” Miss Lawrence said.

Miss Lawrence said Miss Finley is healthy and “upbeat.”

“She is no longer battling the breast cancer,” Miss Lawrence said.

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