UnderCover Waitress: Customers and Hooters Girls

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Customers and Hooters Girls

Ask the Waitress!

"How is a Hooter's Girl expected to deal with sexual harassment by a customer?" 

Expected to deal with sexual harassment by a customer by whom? (No, I am not correcting anybody's grammar.) What I mean is, how she is expected to act will differ by who is doing the expecting... in other words, her manager will expect her to act one way, and her mother will expect her to act another way. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will agree with her mother.

Hooter's Girl "Contracts" 

In Question and Answer: Sexual Harassment Cases, I refer to the Smoking Gun's quote from the Hooter's Girl Consent Form. Hooter's Girls must sign a form saying that they do not find the uniform offensive, that they understand that they are required to "entertain" customers, and that they do not find a workplace full of sexual innuendo offensive.

That post dealt more with managers and employers taking advantage of young, easily manipulated women.

Quick aside: If you are offended that I just said Hooter's Girls are easily manipulated, then think about it:
People are more vulnerable when undressed.
Hooter's Girls have signed a contract in which they are fooled into thinking they have given up their rights.
They have to buy into the idea that it is bad to be self-conscious, to any degree. Part of living in a civilized society is being conscious of how we affect and come across to others. If being self-conscious about our bodies is so terrible, then why are the male Hooter's customers fully clothed? If men embraced how "sad" it is to be self-conscious, they would show up for lunch in speedos, undershirts and sandals.

Anyway, today we are looking at sexual harassment by customers, not by managers.

Define "Harassment" 

I am serious. If sexual harassment in this case means physical touching, complain immediately (or, at least, now) to a manager. If you are not taken seriously, contact the EEOC, which is free, consult with a lawyer, or get out of Hooters and get a job that does not require you to use your body to make money.

I swear, sometimes I think strippers are offered better protections than Hooter's Girls. Strippers are told in no uncertain terms that they are not to allow their breasts to touch customers -- EVER. In general, looking is permitted and touching is forbidden. Even in a lap dance, his hands stay at his sides or he gets thrown out of the club. At Hooter's she has to bend over to pick up something he "accidentally" dropped? I suggest she stoop.

If the sexual harassment by a customer remains in the realm of verbal abuse, then our easily manipulated waitress at Hooters will be afraid to complain because she wrongfully believes that she signed away her rights.

Your Rights As An Employee

Remember this: NO EMPLOYER CAN ASK YOU TO GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS IN RETURN FOR EMPLOYMENT. Therefore, you cannot sign away your rights. Does not matter what you signed; it is probably not worth the paper it is written on.

The Dog Ate My Contract
This is true in more areas that Hooter's Boobs. For example, in California a landlord may not keep a cleaning deposit for a cleaned apartment. I signed a rental agreement that my above-the-law landlord would keep my $50 cleaning deposit, period. When I moved out, I wrote him a letter demanding my $50 back -- and got it. (Along with a snarky letter.) He knew he was breaking the law; most people (if they even had a clue as to how the law protects them) did not bother fighting it. If they knew, they figured they needed the apartment so they would let him remove their right. HE CANNOT.

Same with Hooter's Boobs. The waitresses figure they signed something, so they are stuck putting up with it. If a pimp gets his prostitutes to sign a waiver, do you think the pimp will not go to jail? You cannot sign away your rights, even if you want to.

The Difficulty in Dealing

I recognize that any Hooter's Girl who complains to the boss about verbal sexual harassment from a customer will likely be reminded of the contract she signed, presumably giving up her rights to protection. If she points out that she still has the right to be free from a hostile work environment, she will find herself off of the schedule -- permanently.

If she has no other options, it may be worth it. She could apply for unemployment as she was not fired for cause, and did not quit.

In addition to filing for unemployment, she could also sue Hooters for retaliation. It is illegal for an employer to respond to a complaint from an employee with reduced work hours or any other form of "getting even."

It takes courage to stand up for yourself. Good luck, and thanks for Asking the Waitress.


  1. My niece works at a Hooters in Jacksonville, NC. I don't think she's ever been sexually harassed, but I know she makes great tips when she's nice to certain people even if they become a little obnoxious.

    I think you have to have a certain type of attitude toward certain behaviors to get around these really sensitive and controversial issues.

    If you want to be treated with respect AND you don't have the social skillset to handle harassment, don't work for a place which requires you to put on a mental hat with a label of "I'm hot, check me out."

    Personally, my niece does a bang up job raking in the tips and at the end of the month she is able to pay her bills, which is more than I can say for the college graduates tipping $50.00 in a night and then driving home to mom and dad.

    Think about the economy and who's doing what. Those who sacrifice their "rights" to make ends meet have more dignity than those who seemingly are on the upper end of the spectrum.


    Wow, I almost wrote a book on your blog! lol

    1. Hi Diane! Thank you for bringing up another way of looking at it -- important for perspective.

      As much as my strong, personal opinions come across pretty clear, it is also true that I was responding to (what I assumed) was a question from somebody who is in this situation and is having trouble handling it.

      Sounds like your niece is not so easily manipulated, and I am glad for her that she is strong and dignified! As you may know, sometimes pro-Hooters types read me the riot act publicly in the comments here on my blog. (Thanks for not doing that.) When I get contacted privately and in confidence, however, it is often another story.

      Best! :-)

    2. Oh! Also, I totally agree with your comment:

      "If you want to be treated with respect AND you don't have the social skillset to handle harassment, don't work for a place which requires you to put on a mental hat with a label of "I'm hot, check me out.""

      I think some young women think they can handle it, and discover the hard way that they have trouble handling it.

    3. Well, I'm not a Hooter's advocate. I'm pretty neutral on that. But, if I were a manager at a Hooter's franchise, I would not tolerate disrespect of my employees. I'm a mother hen when it comes to young girls (I have an 18 year old daughter, and she does NOT have the social skillset to tolerate apes). :D

    4. lol :D Yeah, step one is always talking to the manager...

  2. In college, I worked as a truck stop waitress. I lasted two weeks. One of the truckers grabbed my hand and wasn't letting go. I had a pot of hot coffee in the other hand and....

    1. oh my goodness, you are so funny!!! I love it -- wish I could have seen it. :D

  3. Entertain the customer... sounds so sleazy that way, doesn't it?


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