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Can a previous job get you fired from your current one?

Many South Florida residents have periods in their employment history that they're not proud of. Even if you are successful now, you probably worked some difficult and demeaning jobs to get to where you are today.

As long as your previous jobs were legal, they shouldn't jeopardize your current or future employment status, right? Apparently not if you are a former stripper. In a recent employment complaint making national headlines, a woman alleges she was fired from the newspaper where she worked after her employers discovered one of her previous jobs as an exotic dancer. The woman's attorney believes that this constitutes gender discrimination.

The 30-year-old woman worked as a writer and reporter for the Houston Chronicle for about two months. But her broader employment history included working part-time as an exotic dancer while putting herself through college.

A rival newspaper discovered the connection and ran a story about this young reporter's past. Soon afterward, her employers fired her, allegedly for failing to disclose this information on her employment application.

But the woman argues that she filled out the application honestly, and that no questions on it were relevant to her past as a dancer.

The woman has filed a complaint with the EEOC, and a high-profile attorney representing her says that this behavior is nothing short of gender discrimination. The attorney explains: "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."

It is important to remember that while exotic dancing is not universally accepted behavior, it is nonetheless legal. This case may be relevant to nearly anyone who has to stay afloat financially while in pursuit of a higher goal; especially if you must resort to work you might not otherwise want to do.

At a recent press conference, the woman said: "Some young women will use dancing as a way to make ends meet while they study to prepare for the career that they hope to be able to have for the rest of their lives. These women should not have to live in fear that once they acquire a position in the career that they have worked hard to achieve, that their past work experience as a dancer will jeopardize that position."

Source: CNN, "Reporter, fired for stripping, charges gender discrimination," Alan Duke, May 11, 2012

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