UnderCover Waitress: Men Sue Hooters for Sex Discrimination

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Men Sue Hooters for Sex Discrimination

First, a shout out of thanks to Philip on the Under Cover Waitress forums. He is not the first to ask the question, but his post was a great reminder that I had been thinking about writing about this.

Hooters first opened in 1983. The first lawsuit alleging sexual discrimination against men by Hooters was filed in 1991, to the best of my knowledge. A Florida man claimed he was wrongfully denied employment as a bartender, and the case was settled out of court.

A Chicago man filed a similar suit against Hooters in 1994. Hooters used the language in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act known as Bonafide Occupational Qualification, ("BFOQ") as its defense. The BFOQ allows for exceptions to the discrimination rule if the job is truly defined by sex, age, or some other criteria. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, ("EEOC,") investigates charges of BFOQ violations. According to the Hooters website, the EEOC has not yet officially ruled whether they are in violation of BFOQ.

More suits by men against Hooters were brought in 1997. As a result of a class action lawsuit in Chicago, Hooters agreed to offer gender neutral, front of house positions. In addition to financial awards to the plaintiffs, Hooters

"agreed to open three gender-neutral positions... One is a staff position on the floor, where a male would perform some of the same duties as women. Also, the host position, where a female greeted and seated the people, and a bar-support position for a male that will assist the female bartender."

A similar lawsuit was filed by four men in Maryland around the same time as the Chicago lawsuit, and the plaintiffs in Maryland also received financial settlements.

In 2009, Nikolai Grushevski of Corpus Christi, Texas filed another suit against Hooters alleging discrimination on the basis of gender when he was denied employment as a waiter. Personally, I think any male waiter can benefit financially from filing one of these suits. If I were a dude, I might try it myself. Grushevski says he does not want Hooters to stop hiring "Hooters Girls," but that he wants them to stop refusing to hire male waiters.

It gets even more interesting. Hooters claims that "Hooters Girls," as their waitresses are called, are there to provide "vicarious sexual entertainment," whatever that is. Her job description includes taking food orders and delivering food. This claim that she is also responsible for providing vicarious sexual entertainment is Hooter's argument to the EEOC.

The National Organization for Women ("NOW") has taken a stand and is telling Hooters that it can't have it both ways. Hooters has tried to brand itself as a family restaurant and has advertised that children eat free on certain days in certain locations. As the leaders in NOW so deftly point out, a family restaurant has no business providing vicarious sexual entertainment. Adult venues provide sex entertainment.

Hooters provides booster seats, markets to families, and sets up restaurants in shopping malls. They have the poor taste and audacity to sell "future Hooters girl" clothing for toddlers. At the same time, they wish to be considered an adult venue. The two don't mix.

Hooters requires the young, pretty women they hire to wear sexually provocative uniforms and to sign a release against what would otherwise be considered a hostile work environment of blatant sexual innuendo, commentary and jokes. If they can claim to the EEOC that they should be allowed to discriminate in hiring because they are a provider of “vicarious sexual entertainment” rather than a restaurant, then they should not be allowed to market to children and families, thus exposing children to a sexualized atmosphere.

“Marketing to young children and creating a family restaurant atmosphere amounts to the legalization and normalization of sexual discrimination and a hostile work environment,” says Patty Bellasalma, president of the California chapter of NOW. “Every local county or city with a Hooters should consider a ban on marketing sexual entertainment to minors, and require that sexual entertainment businesses check IDs at the door.”

In closing, I wonder how long Hooters will be able to convince the EEOC that they are offering adult entertainment and market to children at the same time. Either Hooters will have to admit that they are not "family friendly," or get ready for the Hooters Boys.


  1. Yo, Under Cover, thanks for this.

  2. They can't have it both ways...

    I feel oddly compelled to take the Hooters upper management corps, drop them on a deserted island in the Pacific with no means of communication... and leave them there. Give them a fifty year time out to learn some bloody manners.

  3. @Philip: You are welcome!

    @William Kendall: They wouldn't last fifty years with nobody to cook, clean, and "entertain." Ha! Seriously, if enough guys keep suing it could make a substantial financial debt, I would think...

  4. i hear they settle lawsuits like this from guys all the time... quick paycheck!!

    the real money is waiting for the guys that work in the kitchen... all they need to do is ask to be promoted to server position... once they get denied... PAYCHECK!!

  5. the name of the restaurant is hooters. booster seats or not we all know why it is named that. guys dont have them so stop applying. leave the company alone.

  6. Well then let's talk about restaurants in general. I was told in an interview once that I had the "Y" chromosome working against me and it was said that it was a "family restaurant" the place was called fry daddy's not "bikini's; thong girls; or nipples"; or any other misogynistic name that male chauvinist owners can think of. hooters is not the only restaurant that discriminates against the prospect of male servers. We are all victims of discrimination despite the names we give to them.


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