Hooters Waitress Forced To Quit: Was Sandra Lupo Discriminated Against Because Of Her Appearance?

By Philip Ross on April 9, 2013 3:41 PM EDT

Hooters
Sandra Lupo (not pictured), a former Hooters waitress, is suing the restaurant, alleging that her manager forced her to quit because of her appearance post-brain surgery. (Photo: Creative Commons)

A former Hooters waitress alleges she was fired because of her appearance after brain surgery, which required her to have her head shaved and left her with a healing scar. Sandra Lupo, 27, is now suing the restaurant in federal court, claiming that her appearance led her manager to cut her hours in an attempt to force her to quit.

Like Us on Facebook

Lupo had worked as a waitress at a Hooters restaurant in St. Peters, MO, since 2005, but had to leave her job for a few weeks in the summer 2012 for brain surgery, ABC News reports. Lupo had a cranial mass removed from her skull.

According to court documents, Lupo's manager at Hooters was supportive of Lupo during her surgery, even visiting her at the hospital. He did ask, however, that when she returned to work, she wear a "chemo cap."

When Lupo returned to Hooters in July, the restaurant's regional manager said that Lupo was required to wear a wig while at work.

Lupo, who was working to put herself through nursing school, said she did not have a wig nor could she afford one. When her manager approached her again about the wig, she decided to borrow one from a friend. However, Lupo said the wig hurt and that she was unable to wear it.

"[Lupo's] physical injury was an actual disability from her surgery which limited the major life activity of working when such work required a wig to be worn," court documents said.

Shortly after, Lupo alleges that her manager cut back her hours to the point that she wasn't making enough money and had to quit.

In an email to ABC News, a spokesperson for Hooters wrote, "Hooters of America believes the lawsuit is without foundation, denies the accusations and has filed a motion that the lawsuit be dismissed."

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal for employers to discriminate based on sex, race, age and disability. However, there is an exception to Title VII. According to one lawyer, an employer can select employees based on sex, race and gender if he can prove that one of those characteristics is a "bona fide occupational qualification."

From USLegal.com:

In order to establish the defense of bona fide occupational qualification, an employer must prove the requirement is necessary to the success of the business and that a definable group or class of employees would be unable to perform the job safely and efficiently. An employer should demonstrate a necessity for a certain type of workers because all others do not have certain characteristics necessary for employment success.

Furthermore, discrimination based on appearance alone is not prohibited under Title VII. Also, employers are entitled to enforce "grooming" codes; for example, employees can be required to wear suits. Even asking women to wear makeup, in some cases, is acceptable under the law. "Grooming" codes cannot, however, place a greater burden on one gender over the other.

The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits employers from qualified workers who have a physical or mental impairment, a history of having impairment or the perception of having one.

In order for Lupo to win her case against Hooters, her lawyers will need to prove that her condition post-surgery constitutes a disability, and therefore is a protected clause.

Read more from iScience Times:

Kim Jong Un Threatens Nuclear War: How Will US React To North Korean Attack On Seoul?

2 Navy Divers Drowned: How Did James Reyher And Ryan Harris Die?

Deadly 2011 Helicopter Crash In Missouri: Did Texting While Flying Cause Crash?

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)
This Is A Scientifically-Proven Rock-Paper-Scissors Winning Strategy (But If Your Opponent Uses It Too, It's A Draw)