Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Warning to Hooters Girls - Don't Eat The Wings

The Wallstreet Journal reports today that Hooters has been sued in Michigan for allegedly violating a state law that bars discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, age, sex, height and, of all things, weight. Cassandra Marie Smith, 20, alleges in her lawsuit that she began working at a Hooters in 2008. At the time, she weighed 145 pounds. In a performance evaluation earlier this month, she claims, management advised her to join a gym in order to improve herself and her ability to fit into the extra small-sized uniform. The official uniform for Hooters waitresses, she claims, comes in 3 sizes: extra extra small, extra small, or small. Smith alleges she was advised to sign an agreement placing her on 30 day “weight probation” as a condition of retaining her employment and that she was 5’8 and 132.5 pounds at the time of the evaluation. Smith claims she was unable to return to Hooters after the humiliation of being put on weight probation. Although this case may seem "silly" to some, it is a reminder to employers that many state anti-discrimination laws are more expansive in breadth than federal laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. For example, many states (and municipalities) have workplace antidiscrimination laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. In contrast, to date, Congress has not extended the reach of federal antidiscrimination laws to that group.