This past March, the Houston Chronicle fired society reporter Sarah Tressler from her job after the city’s rival newspaper exposed her as a stripper. The Chronicle claimed it only fired Tressler because she did not reveal that job — not, say, because it actually had a problem that one of its reporters worked the pole at upscale strip clubs and wrote about her adventures on a blog called Diary Of An Angry Stripper.
Now Tressler, 30, has retained the notorious feminist lawyer Gloria Allred to fight back. On Thursday, she filed a federal gender discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the Chronicle, alleging that she’s being unjustly targeted because stripping is a female-dominated field.
In a statement released by Gloria Allred, Tressler claims doing side work as a stripper should have no impact on her ability to be a newspaper reporter:
“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. … Sarah’s work as a dancer is lawful and is not a crime. It does not, has not and will not affect her ability to perform her job as a journalist.”
I don’t disagree that Tressler was treated poorly. In fact, I actually think that her job as a society reporter — which entails covering parties and knowing all the muckety-mucks in town — could benefit from whatever she sees and hears in the upscale strip clubs where she works. More importantly, though, there is a stigma against sex workers in this country that borders on being a witch hunt. (And the Chronicle’s rival paper, the Houston Press, was all too happy to participate in that witch hunt by outing her.) Sarah Tressler has a point that women who work or have worked in the past as strippers/sex workers should not have to live in fear that they could lose their “day jobs” over this.
But the paper isn’t claiming they fired her because her side job was bad for the paper’s reputation — which would actual weight to her claim of a double standard and gender discrimination. If her newspaper employer truly did require in her contract that she disclose all outside work and she didn’t do so, then unfortunately, Sarah Tressler won’t have a leg to stand on. (Er, swing around the pole on?) She technically didn’t do the right thing and she got caught. It may be unjust that she was fired from her job when Bobby The Crime Reporter wasn’t fired for picking up a few bartending gigs on the side and not telling his boss. Alas, it may not be illegal either.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.
Image via Good Morning America