Roy Lester, 61, has filed a rather novel challenge against the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Lester is a bankruptcy lawyer who has worked as a Long Island lifeguard as a second job. He has filed an age discrimination suit based on the requirement that he wear either a speedo swimsuit or, alternatively, a loose-fitting swimsuit. He insists that he should be allowed to wear swim jammers and that the denial of his choice constitutes age discrimination. Lester is a bankruptcy lawyer and this lawsuit indicates that he is better suited for that field than constitutional and discrimination law.
Lester is quoted as saying “There should be a law prohibiting anyone over the age of 50 from wearing a Speedo.” However, the state allows the wearing of two loose-fitting options—boxers or board shorts. Lester insists that such looser suits slow him down as opposed to the swim jammers that are tight and reach to the knee.
Lester was the chief negotiator of the lifeguard union. He is now lifeguarding at a private beach.
The New York State Division of Human Rights had dismissed Lester’s 2007 complaint. His appeal was then denied after he filed too late. He then filed a new complaint in 2009, which was also dismissed by then reinstated by a New York appellate court. I fail to understand the decision to allow this lawsuit to go forward. I fail to see the merit behind such claims. Indeed, it would appear ripe for Rule II sanctions. It is not like they are requiring mankinis. They allow two uniform choices for lifeguards and I fail to see who allowing trunks as well as speedos is a matter of age discrimination.
As a former lifeguard, I found one fact particularly interesting: “of 271 lifeguards hired for the 2007 season, 80 ranged in age from 40 to 80 years old.” An eighty-year-old lifeguard? Since he or she has to qualify, that is pretty darn impressive. It also would appear to undermine allegations of age discrimination.