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Wal-Mart Wins Female Santa Dispute

October 9, 2000

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A discrimination complaint filed against Wal-Mart for barring a female employee from playing Santa Claus was thrown out Monday by a state panel that said the woman wasn’t convincing.

Customer service representative Marta Brown volunteered for the role in 1995, dressing in traditional Santa garb. Managers at the Morganfield store elected to go with a male Santa after a customer said her child had asked about Santa’s breasts.

The company feared complaints about a female Santa would hurt Wal-Mart’s reputation and affect Christmas sales. Wal-Mart also argued that Brown wasn’t convincing as Santa, and the Commission on Human Rights agreed.

``Unfortunately, Ms. Brown’s debut as Santa Claus was less than successful,″ Commissioner Karen McCord said.

Brown, who quit her job, was seeking $67,000 in lost wages and pain and suffering caused by the incident.

Alteata McWilliams, Brown’s attorney, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Monday.

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