UnderCover Waitress: Hooters Weight Discrimination Lawsuit

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hooters Weight Discrimination Lawsuit

People have been searching for information regarding the outcome of the weight discrimination lawsuit filed by two former Hooters waitresses. The issue hit the news in March, 2010.

In short, two Hooters waitresses in Michigan were put on job probation for no other reason than personal appearance. They had no trouble performing their job duties. They were not overweight by an medical standard. They were threatened with job loss based upon an arbitrary opinion of whether or not they looked sexy enough in almost no clothing. (Is it any wonder we have a plethora of girls and women making themselves sick with Anorexia in a society that both devalues healthy women and threatens them with job loss?)

The latest public information is from as far back as August, 2010. According to the Wall Street Journal, Michigan Judge Peter Maceroni ruled that the plaintiffs may proceed with their case.

The issue at hand was that when Hooters told the employees to join a gym, lose weight or lose their jobs, Hooters management handed them paperwork to sign. This is, of course, an intimidating situation for any employee. First, they were threatened with their jobs so they were already feeling scared. Then, they are handed paperwork and "advised" to sign. The paperwork included a clause indicating that the waitresses gave up their rights to litigate and agreed to settle for out-of-court arbitration. This clause protects Hooters, not the waitresses.

Judge Maceroni recognized that the waitresses likely did not understand what they were signing. Before assuming that they should have known, remember the situation. It is highly doubtful that management was forthcoming about exactly what the paperwork said, nor do I expect the waitresses were given time to read it.*

While Marconi's decision seems to be based upon lack of knowledge on the employees' parts, I will add that this appears to be a classic case of unequal bargaining power. In basic contract law, when the bargaining parties have unequal power, discrepancies in the contract are interpreted against the more powerful side.

As I can dig up no further commentary on the Hooters Weight Discrimination Lawsuit, I expect that it is waiting to be or currently being tried in Michigan state court. These things take time, but hopefully the outcome will be covered by news outlets and, of course, by me.


*I was bullied by a small claims court officer in San Francisco many years ago because I tried to read the paperwork I needed to sign. He wanted me to hurry up and told me, "Everybody just signs it." I'm not "everybody."

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