A Hooters restaurant in North Carolina is finding itself embroiled in a legal battle as a US government body, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), has filed a lawsuit against the establishment. The lawsuit alleges that the restaurant engaged in racial discrimination, specifically targeting women with darker skin tones during the course of pandemic-induced layoffs.
According to the EEOC’s claims, managers at the Hooters restaurant in Greensboro made disparaging “discriminatory comments” about employees who were either Black or had darker skin tones. These comments included expressing preferences for white and light-skinned servers, insinuating that they were more presentable, and even making derogatory remarks about the appearance and hairstyles of Black and dark-skinned employees.
Furthermore, the lawsuit asserts that the restaurant management provided preferential treatment to workers who were white or had lighter skin tones. This preferential treatment extended to being friendlier to such employees and assigning them more lucrative shifts, thus exacerbating the discriminatory practices.
Amidst the pandemic’s upheaval in March 2020, the restaurant decided to lay off its approximately 43 Hooters Girls, assuring them that the layoffs would be temporary. As the situation evolved, the restaurant began to recall some of the employees, and by mid-May 2020, 13 Hooters Girls were asked to return to work.
However, what drew the attention of the EEOC was the glaring discrepancy in the racial makeup of the recalled workforce. Before the pandemic, the demographic composition of the Hooters Girls at the restaurant indicated that 51% of them were Black or had darker skin tones. Yet, among the employees who were asked to return, only 8% fell into this category.
The crux of the Hooters lawsuit is the claim that the restaurant unlawfully chose not to rehire a substantial number of workers based on their race and skin color, an act that the EEOC deems “willful and intentional.” The EEOC is calling for corrective measures, including implementing equal employment opportunities, compensating the affected workers with damages and backpay, and, if warranted, reinstating the workers who faced discrimination.
As this case underscores the significance of combating racial discrimination in the workplace, individuals who have encountered similar situations are encouraged to take a stand. If you or someone you know has experienced workplace discrimination, Labor Law Advocates is here to provide guidance and support. Reach out today to ensure that your rights are safeguarded and justice is pursued.