HR Strange But True!
January 23, 2009

Last week's story about the hiring policy at Hooters must have hit a nerve because we received a whopping 50 responses to our question about whether excluding men from Hooters Girl positions is unlawful discrimination (see “'Hooters Girl' Wannabe, a Dude, Files Suit.”).

A vast majority of respondents who offered an opinion on the legality of the policy said it was probably legal. Some complained that such lawsuits stem from political correctness run amok. Others simply wrote to share their idea for developing a restaurant chain with a male-servers-only policy. Some even suggested a name for it.

Many respondents who said they believe the hiring policy at Hooters doesn't violate federal law said that the company has a legitimate argument that being a woman is a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for the job. Others took a libertarian view that government shouldn't be telling businesses who they should hire. Here are some of the responses that covered the question from these angles.

  • “What the men suing are overlooking is one of the qualifications of the job, and that is you do need to be a woman. The clients are men going for a ‘woman' to wait on them. Hooters is in the right to hire only women in this case.” -- Sheila
  • “I think being a Hooters girl is a legitimate BFOQ---even though I find the company's title and job disgusting and degrading to women!” -- Anonymous
  • “I don't believe Hooters' hiring policy is against federal law. I think it's comparable to hiring a person for an acting role. For example, one wouldn't hire a tall, blonde, female to play Charlie Chan nor would one hire a male to play Cinderella at Disney World. The main promotional image for Hooters is its friendly, shapely, female servers. It's not discrimination. This gentleman may have service experience but still does not have all the qualifications necessary for the position. Just by being male, he is the opposite of their image.” -- Anonymous
  • “The ‘Hooter Girls' are what defines the company. That is their trademark and therefore being a female should be a bona fide employment requirement.” -- Anonymous
  • “I think Hooters should be allowed to keep its women-only policy. The very name of the establishment signifies the theme of the restaurant. Sure the wings are great, but that's not the reason that nearly 70% of the patrons are men!! There are countless bars and restaurants that these men can work if they wish to be servers. Challenging Hooters based on a Title VII violation is not only insulting, it undermines and demeans the real actions and behaviors that the Civil Rights Act was created to prevent.” -- Dawna
  • “Hiring men would change the Hooters image and negate its market strategy. Therefore, Hooters should not be forced to hire men and are in compliance with federal regulations.” -- Ben
  • “In regard to the Hooters wait staff hiring policy, my personal opinion is that all employers should have the right to hire whomever they please in any position, without the interference of government mandates. If this means no male waiters at Hooters, so be it.” -- Anonymous
  • "Keep government out of private business. Allow the owner who takes all the risks to decide what makes the business tick! If you don't like it, go work someplace else!” --Anonymous

A few respondents said the company's policy is discriminatory and a violation of federal law.

  • “Yes, it is probably and unfortunately illegal discrimination.” -- Rick
  • “Well, if 68% of the customers are men, it follows that 32% of the customers are women. Women appreciate cute, personable men unless Hooters wants to limit its marketing to men only, (and didn't I remember reading that corporate HQ had changed that marketing emphasis in order to attract more women and families to the restaurants?), then the all female server policy is discriminatory. Sounds like a no-brainer to me.” -- Maxine

Some respondents argued that regardless of what the court decides, the company is missing out on an opportunity by hiring only women. Here are some of the responses.

  • “I believe the Hooters chain should hire men in waiter positions for the female customers. If anything, its [current hiring policy] is discriminating against female customers. We want to see good looking men servers just as male customers what to see the Hooters girls. I was just recently in Hooters in Denton, TX, with my daughter and a girlfriend. We would have much rather had a young male hunk wait on us than the girl with a low cut tank top.” -- Anonymous
  • “Maybe they would get more customers if they would also hire men. As a female, I love wings and my husband really loves their wings, but I'm not about to go along with him to watch ladies in skimpy skin colored tights serve me wings--no matter how good they are. Now, if they had men as servers too, I might be more willing to accompany him and double our order. I think they are exploiting women and would be much better off having both male and female servers and at the same time reach a bigger market.” -- Anonymous
  • "Personally, I have never been to the establishment and I don't care if Hooters employs only females as servers. However, an answer to the ‘problem' would be for all the men who are perturbed to unite and open their own establishment that caters to women. They could wear a muscle t-shirt and thong.” -- Anonymous
  • “I know I would love it if there were male servers there. They could go topless! I think Hooters is cutting out a good portion of perspective customers by catering only to the male customer. I think women would love it. At a mixed table, one gender could take the order and the other could serve. It would make everyone happy. Maybe Hooters should open a restaurant called PECKERS (for Pecs)” -- Anonymous
  • "Simply open a Hooters-style restaurant with only male waiters and call it ‘Pecs .'” -- Mark

Finally, some readers expressed cynicism over the jobseeker's motivations in trying for a waiter job at Hooters in the first place.

  • “Hooters is largely identified for their ‘Hooter Girls.' My only thought is if men insist on being a ‘Hooters Girl,' they will have to wear a uniform that equally displays their ‘assets.' It appears to me that this gentleman is doing what so many try to do today--create a sensation and reap some type of reward from it. My advice: look for a wait staff position at one of the other million eating establishments!” -- Anonymous
  • “Hooters Boys? my humble opinion, the young man is just trying to make a name for himself (or get lots of dates!) I REALLY do NOT want to see a young boy in tight orange short shorts...” -- Karen

Sources: Our equal opportunity, libertarian, and entrepreneurial readers

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