An administrative law judge has rendered in interesting ruling that a Hooters waitress was entitled to unemployment benefits after she was beaten and left bruised. Judge Teresa Hillary ruled that Sara Dye, 27, was barred from work due to her inability to present a “glamorous appearance.”
Dye was assaulted and left with bruises all over her body in a case of domestic abuse in Rock Island, Illinois. Her assailant also cut off some of her hair. She claimed that she could not be a “Hooters Girl” in such condition. She said that managers told her that it would be weeks before she would be presentable as a Hooters Girl.
Hooters General Manager Gina Sheedy testified that Dye’s bruises would have been visible and “it was probably not in her best interest to work for a while because of the state of her body.” The bruising would bar her from work under the restaurant chain’s handbook, which Sheedy testified “states you have to have a glamorous appearance. It doesn’t actually say, ‘Bruises on your face are not allowed.’ It does talk about the all-American cheerleader look.”
All-American cheerleaders who are beaten in domestic violence do not fit that image it appears.
The restaurant’s assistant manager, Michelle Duvall, testified that, even if you hair is lost in an accident, the handbook still requires that your hair must “be styled as if you’re going out on a big date on a Saturday night, as if you’re preparing for a photo shoot.”
Hooters is a case where the appearance of the staff is a critical part of the business purpose and identity. The owner of the Davenport restaurant, Darren Taylor, said “I don’t know any restaurateur who would want somebody totally bruised up waiting on his customers.”
The issue of when such appearances are a bona fide occupational qualification has come up repeatedly with television anchors, strippers, and others, here. In this case, the issue is not whether Hooters can bar a waitress for her looks but whether it must afford unemployment benefits while she recovers.
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