Arbitrator to decide Hooters weight cases

MOUNT CLEMENS (AP) — A dispute involving Hooters and the weight of two former Detroit-area waitresses will be settled outside of court.

Judge James Biernat Jr. of Macomb County Circuit Court recently dismissed lawsuits by Cassie Smith and Leanne Convery, clearing the way for all parties to go to private arbitration.

Smith and Convery claim they were fired or force to quit because Hooters believed they were too heavy. They worked at the restaurant chain’s Roseville location. Hooters denies the allegation. The chain is known for having female waitresses in tight-fitting clothes.

Michigan law prohibits discrimination based on weight. Hooters attorney Rob Huth told The Macomb Daily that arbitration will greatly reduce legal costs and lead to a quick decision.

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They sure give a ‘Hoot’ about their servers

So the big news story this week in the civil arena – at least the public one – concerns a Hooters server who was put on “weight probation.”

Cassie Smith, 20, said she was told that if she wanted to keep her job at the sports bar chain’s Roseville location, she needed to drop some weight, because her shorts and shirt size “could use some improvement.”

Fox 2 Detroit added that the 5-foot, 8-inch, 132-pound server has contacted a lawyer because Michigan is one state that carries the weight discrimination law.

Interestingly, Smith claimed that when landed the job two years ago, she was actually 10 pounds heavier. (She must have taken the advice from the “Eat This, Not That!” experts, and avoided the wings.)

The news station got a response from the sports bar’s corporate headquarters that the company “does not impose any weight requirement, and no employee in Michigan has been counseled about their weight.”

Further, “Our practice of upholding an image standard based on appearance, attitude and fitness for Hooters girls is both legal and fair. It is not unlike the standard used by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders or the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes.”

Apparently, the restaurant is concerned about the well-being of its employees, as Smith said she was offered a free monthlong gym membership to, well, conform to the “standard” better.

UPDATE, MAY 24: The Detroit News has reported that Smith has filed a lawsuit in Macomb County Circuit Court, asserted an ELCRA violation.