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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - A Kalamazoo woman said she was fired after showing up to her waitressing job dressed in drag. She calls it discrimination, but the bar where she worked says it's a matter of professional standards.
Myah VanTil wanted to show her pride as part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community by dressing like a man on Saturday, when many in that community around the world celebrated a day of solidarity. She used makeup to draw a five o'clock shadow on her face and then went to wait tables at Harvey's on the Mall in downtown Kalamazoo.
"The makeup took me about two hours and then binding my chest took about 45 minutes," she said.
But the top boss at Harvey's said VanTil went too far. VanTil was fired the next day.
"She told me the whole reason was because of drag," VanTil said.
VanTil said the law backs her freedom to express her sexuality at work or anywhere.
But Harvey's says it did nothing wrong. It says the issue is about professional standards. And, management said, VanTil was told beforehand that she could not show up to work dressed as a man.
"This termination had nothing to do with her personal beliefs or the beliefs of anybody that works here," general manager Brian Figgins said. "The termination was for the dress code violation."
He said VanTil wasn't fired because of her sexual preferences, but because of the makeup on her face.
"She specifically asked them, 'Could I wear this makeup?' And they said no. She went ahead and did it anyway," Cooley Law School Professor Curt Benson said. "You can fire somebody for misconduct. This is a form of misconduct, and the fact that she may or may not be a lesbian is quite irrelevant to the question."
Initially, VanTil was planning to take her case to the ACLU, but told 24 Hour News 8 on the phone Monday evening that management now wants to draft guidelines for those who want to dress drag at work. She and management are still in talks.
VanTil said she hopes to get her job back after the guidelines are worked out.
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