There were a lot of ethical considerations being ignored or scuffed in a strange conflict in Utah County, Utah. Rebecca Ortinez, a regular plasma donor to BioLife Plasma Services, was told by managers at the facillity that she could not donate and had to leave the premises because of her immodest attire. According to Ortinez, who issued a detailed account of her treatment on social media, she was told, “We have a lot of RMs [Mormon Returned Missionaries] that donate and how you’re dressed is very distracting, so you are going to have to leave.”
Ortinez added a selfie of her outfit, chosen, she said, because she expected to have to wait outdoors and it was “95 degrees in the shade”:
When she was told she had to leave, Ortinez refused and demanded that the request be put in writing, which the manager refused to do. Then the manager elaborated on her objections to Oridnez’s appearance: she informed Ordinez she was distracting because her “nipples were poking out” and added that she should be ashamed of herself. Ortinez reacted to that by refusing to leave unless the objections were put in writing and she could see the plasma center’s dress code provisions. The managers threatened to call the police and did so, telling them that they wanted Ortinez banned for life from all Biolaife Plasma Centers
After she finally left the property and received a copy of the police report, Ortinez sent out a Facebook post “For Donors, ACLU, ACLU Utah, Fox News, KSL 5 TV, KSL Newsradio, KSL.com, KUTV 2News,” telling the tale and announcing, “Now I’m blasting BioLife on my extensive social media platforms!”
You go girl!
- The managers of the Bio Life Plasma Centers have dead ethics alarms. This is fat-shaming and cruelty. Those sensitive Church of the Latter Day Saints missionaries can avert their eyes; the woman was giving blood, a public service.
If they are going to have a dress code for donors, which seems ridiculous on its face, then the centers should make it known to all. I assume there is no dress code. Of course, all businesses assume a base level of modesty and common sense will be maintained by the public.
- This is a pure Golden Rule episode. Who would want to be humiliated and insulted like that while trying to do something that is in the interests of public health?
The conduct of the managers was also a breach of simple utilitarianism. Their duty is to get plasma, not protect the delicate sensibilities of those who might be “distracted” by a woman’s protruding nipples. Let the missionaries be “distracted,” get the plasma, and suggest to the offending donor that she should wear a shirt next time. How difficult is that?
- This is not to say that what Ordinez chose to wear was appropriate for public presentation. No, society has no dress codes either; those days are past, and so is the once majority ethic that one is obligated to make some effort to dress and behave, as George Washington would say, with consideration of and respect for of all those individuals one might interact with.
This is part of civility. Apparently Ordinez has no appreciation of it. She is, to be blunt, a slob, and apparently proud of to be one, indeed defiant about it. Yes, she has a right to dress like that in public. That doesn’t mean it is right, however.
- She is wrong about BioLife violating her civil rights, with or without a dress code. As a private operation, they can reject and eject anyone they please. Discriminating against someone based on their poor choice of attire is not “invidious discrimination,” nor is a plasma center a public accommodation.
I do not think the ACLU will take her case.
- Added: When I first wrote this a few hours ago, I was not aware that plasma “donors” like Ortinez were compensated for their plasma; none of the accounts I read nor Rebecca’s Facebook post mentioned that detail. Based on that fact, which I should have included, she might have a case— a weak one, I think, but you never know what a court will do—that she has a “right” to sell her blood like any other commodity.
It’s a legal issue. She seems just the kind of person who would litigate over it, too. [Much thanks to philk57 for the correction]
- How people feel empowered by social media: Look at Rebecca! She got herself a viral social media entry! She might get interviewed on TV! She might get those mean BioLife managers fired, or at least cause them a lot of trouble! Power! Fifteen minutes of fame!
I dislike the BioLife prudes and bullies more, but I don’t care for Rebecca much either. In the spirit of late Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs Spy,” this kerfuffle was “Jerk vs Jerk.”
- Is there any doubt that if Rebecca were black, this would be reported as a racist incident, the managers would be fired, and the BioLife Centers would issue a public apology?