Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Not Sure What To Say

This is a sentence I never thought I'd read*:

A 20-year-old former Hooters waitress filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain yesterday, claiming that she was forced to resign from her server position due to weight discrimination.

Her suit is based on Michigan's Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which "prohibits discriminatory practices based upon religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, familial status, marital status and, of course, weight."

I truly don't know quite what to say, partly because it's hot as hell in this room (95F) and my brain is gently sizzling, but mostly because everyone in that case is perfectly content with discrimination based on boob size. It's a relevant job characteristic, after all! Not to mention the teeny weeny fact that Hooters discriminates on the basis of gender all the time, though that is aimed against men rather than women when it comes to job openings.

But if boob size is a fair job requirement, we might as well argue that so is the server's weight. If her job is to carry trays AND to titillate then she has to remain titillacious at all times, right?

On a completely different level weight discrimination of the kind the woman in the story describes is of course wrong. It has nothing to do with health or safety or anything but titillating looks. Still, I cant quite get over the idea of suing Hooters for anything but for them being total a***oles. Which they are.

Just have a look at the Hooter defense:

"No employee in Michigan has been counseled about their weight," Mike McNeil, the Vice President of Marketing for Hooters America said in the press release. "However, we will say that our practice of upholding an image standard based on appearance, attitude and fitness for Hooters Girls is both legal and fair."

I hope the woman in this story wins her case, though. Note that she is asking a total of 25,000 dollars for lost wages and so on.** That pitiful sum (when compared to what many similar cases would ask) tells us why women have to work for Hooters and why they have to listen to a guy who upholds standards having to do with their "appearance, attitude and fitness." And who calls them Hooters Girls while doing that.
*For those who don't know what Hooters Restaurants are: Imagine a Playboy Club where waitresses wear corsets under bathing suits. Then make all this a bit more informal: The waitresses now wear small t-shirts and shorts, and you've got Hooters. Hooters means tits. It's supposed to be a family-friendly way of ogling those because you can take your kids there. Honest.

**Emma in the comments points out that my interpretation of the 25,000 dollars is incorrect: "She's not suing for $25,000, she's suing for more. $25,000 is the jurisdictional limit for the Circuit Courts in Michigan. You have to allege damages of at least $25,000 in your complaint to get in Circuit Court. If you allege less, you're in District Court (sort of small claims court)."