A car accident can be a traumatic experience, no matter how serious. Even experienced, cautious drivers can be involved in accidents due to the negligent...
Thank you to the Cleveland Jewish News for this wonderful story as I get ready to travel to Ohio this weekend to work with Cleveland...
A special thanks to Paula Tutman and WDIV Local 4 for their interest in the work of Achilles International as they begin working with the...
Nation’s Restaurant News
By Alan J. Liddle
May 25, 2010
ROSEVILLE, Mich. A waitress at a Hooters restaurant here is suing the chain's parent company for discrimination in a flap tied to her allegations that management put her on “weight probation” because of the fit of her uniform.
Attorneys for waitress Cassandra Marie Smith, 20, filed a complaint Monday in the Circuit Court for Macomb County, Mich., against Hooters of America Inc., alleging the violation of Michigan discrimination prohibitions and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit names as defendants Atlanta-based Hooters of America, operator or franchisor of about 455 casual-dining restaurants, and its subsidiary Hooters of Roseville Inc.
Hooters of America said it could not comment about the specifics of the lawsuit stemming from its company-store operation because it had not yet been served with the complaint. However, the company said in a statement that "no employee in Michigan has been asked to lose weight and that the company does not enforce any weight requirement."
Smith’s lawsuit contends that restaurant and chain managers have “constructively discharged” the woman, or put her in employment limbo where she is not working but has not been fired, “because she was unable to meet Hooters’ discriminatory and illegal requirements of a ‘Hooters Girl.” It further alleges that the defendants told Smith's co-workers and others that she was on weight probation, thereby making the Roseville restaurant an "intensely humiliating,” “deeply offensive” and an “untenable environment” for the young waitress.
Sources at the Sam Bernstein Law Firm, one of three sets of attorneys representing Smith, said the woman had an exemplary performance record as a two-year employee of the restaurant and was made a shift leader prior to being told May 14 that her job was in jeopardy because of the fit of her uniform. Among other allegations, Smith’s suit accuses the defendants of violating Michigan’s unique Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which bars employers from discriminating on the basis of weight and height.
The suit alleges that during a May 14 job performance evaluation Smith was “admonished, disciplined and counseled” by store managers and representatives of Hooters of America’s human resources department, and that at the end of the session she was required to acknowledge in writing that she was on 30-day weight probation.
Smith’s weight “is within the medically acceptable range” for a person of her height and age, and she was more than 12 pounds lighter on the day she alleges she was put on weight probation than on the day she was hired, the lawsuit indicates.
Mike McNeil, vice president of marketing for Hooters of America, said the company was “perplexed” by Smith’s story, as it has heard it, and that it hopes to “begin to get some clarity on the matter in the near future.”
“We have heard and read that Miss Smith claims she was put on ‘weight probation,’ while in other articles admitting she was not asked to lose weight and that she actually weighs 10 pounds less than she did when she was hired,” McNeil said. “She has stated that she is still employed but she has missed all of her scheduled shifts for the past week. We are now seeing that she claims she was ‘discharged,’ however no such action has been taken by Hooters.”
Hooters officials said the chain has never been sued for weight discrimination and added that it “welcomes the opportunity to defend ourselves against these baseless and self-serving charges.”
Smith’s complaint seeks lost wages and damages for emotional distress, as well as exemplary damages and other relief the court deems appropriate in an amount exceeding of $25,000.
Visually Impaired Athlete Sues USA Triathlon
Richard Bernstein Challenges ABA for Discrimination Against Blind Law Students
Michigan Sports Hall of Fame Honors Richard Bernstein with Courage Award
Attorney Richard Bernstein Named Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly
Victory! Disabled Win Access to U-M Stadium