Stripper alleges discrimination against newspaper

July 3, 2012 7:55:50 AM PDT
The Houston Chronicle has gone from reporting the news to being the news. A former reporter has hired a big name attorney and has filed an EEOC complaint against the Chronicle after she was fired for allegedly not disclosing her job as a stripper.

Sarah Tressler says she was hired by the Houston Chronicle in January and worked as a society writer covering the high life in Houston.

"I liked the work and I felt that I had good editors who provided me with opportunities to cover stories in Houston that might have otherwise been overlooked," Tressler said.

And there was a second job, and a different topic she blogged about, as an exotic dancer on her Twitter account she wrote through "The Diary of an Angry Stripper."

"They were separate. I was writing about completely separate things," Tressler said.

In March, Tressler says was fired by the Chronicle and told it was because she did not disclose her prior employment as a dancer.

"I feel that women should not be denied other employment because they have worked as exotic dancers," she said.

The writer, who says she's also taught classes at the University of Houston, says she didn't lie since she was an independent contractor, never an employee of any club.

The 30-year-old hired high-profile attorney Gloria Allred and has filed a charge of gender discrimination with the EEOC and has asked them to investigate her claim of gender discrimination.

"Sarah also believed that it seems highly unlikely that men who are independent contractors have been terminated if they have failed to list in Houston Chronicle employment applications work which they have done legally," Allred said.

When asked about Tressler's claims the Houston Chronicle will only say, "We have not seen the complaint and thus cannot comment."

"What's making this case newsworthy is the fact that she's an exotic dancer," Houston attorney Scott Newar said.

Newar has tried hundreds of employment and labor cases. Though he is not involved in the Tressler case, he says the question will be how the Chronicle treated male employees who may not have disclosed a previous job.

"That's what this ultimately comes down to. Was she treated discriminatorily based on her gender, not whether or not she was treated discriminatorily because she's an exotic dancer," Newar said. "There are male and female exotic dancers and being an exotic dancer is not a protected classification under the discrimination law."

The EEOC will now wait for the Chronicle's written position statement. That process could take about six months.

Tressler could then request a right to sue letter from the EEOC or the case could be settled out of court.

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