Hooters waitress told to lose weight or lose her job

Hooters waitress Cassie Smith, 20, was told during her employee review that she would have to lose weight within 30 days or risk losing her job. The ever-sensitive corporate bosses offered Smith a free gym membership. Not that I expect a ton of awesomeness from Hooters, but still – gross.

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17 Comments

  1. Phenicks
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I have empathy for her, hearing that had to be awful.
    Hooters is ick, being a waitress there means you MUST confirm to THIER beauty ideals. The job relies heavily on appearance and they have terribly high “standards”, I don’t think there is much she could do legally.
    In DC there is a “Club” in Georgetown (not a “gentleman’s club” more akin to a golf club) and to be a (female) employee there you MUST be good looking and in good physical shape, it is literally a requirement of the job as the club promises its members that the staff is attractive. Yes, sexism is alive and well.
    Oh, please note the physical condition of the Hooters employee who couldn’t make any comments. Talk about double standards!

  2. alice-paul
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I was lucky; when I worked at Hooters I was only told to “wear more makeup” and “do your hair like you were going on a date with your boyfriend”
    This is worse; this is telling a woman that her livelihood depends on changing her body and her food intake. Think of how fucked that is.

  3. Toongrrl
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “Legal and Fair”? What the hell? uniforms are clothes not people, Hooters!!!

  4. Femanon
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I’m sort of afraid to say this and I know I’ll get jumped on, but here goes nothing:
    I’ve been thinking about this, and I’m starting to think that this sort of practice should be illegal. The idea that a company can fire someone, or refuse to hire them, because of their weight or appearance. Expecting people to dress a certain way is one thing – to an extent, I’m torn on whether it’s even okay to have strict rules about makeup and hairstyles.
    I’m just very much opposed to these gimmicks based on the appearance of the employees, or trying to get ahead in the corporate world or create an environment based on the appearance of the employees (by appearance I mean physical attributes – nose size, bone structure, body shape, etc.). I realize that a change in law would mean drastic changes to company policies, the probable demise of Hooters, loss of jobs, and a lot of angry people, especially men who feel entitled to only look at pretty women in certain places, if not all the time.
    To me, discriminating against people based on their physical attributes is just wrong, and since appearance-based employment practices usually only affect women, it really falls under sexism and the idea that a female employee is only as good as she looks.

  5. The Boggart
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I just ran the numbers with an online BMI calculator, and at almost 5 ft 8 and 132 lbs, she has a BMI of 20.1, which is perfectly healthy. If she were to lose “just 10 lbs” her BMI would be reduced to 18.5. A BMI of 18.5 or below is considered underweight and unhealthy. So much for Hooter’s trying to market this as a “fitness” requirement.

  6. SamLL
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m on board. “Treating people like things” is the Weatherwaxian definition of evil.

  7. Chris
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Her (male) boss’ obesity doesn’t really win them any awards for even-handedness.

  8. GREGORYABUTLER10031
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t it ironic that the manager who told Cassie Smith (a very slender woman) to, basically, lose weight or get fired himself weighs at least 300 pounds!
    I’m not in any way fat shaming the dude (hell, I’m in that weight class myself!) but it is funny that he of all people is engaged in weight discrimination!
    Obviously his job doesn’t have a weight requirement – maybe he should give his spot to Ms Smith, if her weight really is an issue!

  9. pokemontaco.wordpress.com
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    BMI is a joke, although I agree she likely has no reason health-wise to lose weight.
    I seem to remember some school had to bring in a weight-loss program because so many employees were obese it was making them almost uninsurable.
    I think the idea of making it illegal to fire or not-hire on the basis of looks is ridiculous. There’s almost no way to prove a person wasn’t hired because the boss thought they were overweight or not attractive. Overweight women are much less likely to be hired, especially in positions where she must be viewed by the public-receptionists, cashiers, etc.
    And how would that change this case? Instead of telling her the truth, that her appearance would get her fired, she’ll lose her job for being late, even if the schedule they gave her was wrong. Or she’ll have been “rude” to a customer, one the bosses set up to be there. They will get rid of a person they don’t want there, regardless of the reason for it and the reason they give.
    That said, Hooters should give a gym membership to all employees if fitness is a factor.

  10. Rhoanna
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    This may or may not have been illegal, since Michigan bans weight discrimination in employment. Unfortunately, it seems to be the only state that does so, although DC goes even further and bans employment discrimination based on personal appearance. If only more places would follow their lead.

  11. The Boggart
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    I actually agree with you that BMI is a highly flawed system; since it is based on averages, (which makes it relevant for the majority), it fails to take into account that some people are naturally healthy endomorphs and others are naturally healthy ectomorphs, and no amount of gorging or starving is going to change that.
    However, I feel that BMI can serve as a useful point of reference, especially for those submerged in the image conscious/based industries, where a skewed idea of what is a desirable and/or healthy body too often prevails. For example, in order to protect against exploitation of runway models, Spain has passed legislation to ensure that they have a healthy BMI.
    Whilst I feel conflicted about the Spanish system (the bodies of many high fashion models naturally push the boundaries of ectomorphic possibility, possibly leading to unfair loss of employment), I think that on balance Hooter’s “fitness requirements” should take BMI into account. This would provide workers with appropriate guidelines (you’d be surprised how young women underestimate their healthy weights) and would also give them hard numbers to argue with, should management pressure them to unnecessarily lose weight.
    In conclusion to my little rant, yes, BMI isn’t the best system*, but at the moment I think it’s the best we’ve got.
    *Barring body fat percentage, (but procuring an accurate reading in every case via dual energy x-ray absorptiometry is extremely costly, time-consuming and unrealistic).

  12. liv79
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I agree that this is horrible on a personal level, and absolutely should be illegal, but really, how surprised can you be when you sign away your legal recourse against harassment in your employment contract?

  13. Anonymous
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you, Femanon. To “promise” attractive women to customers is just gross and unfair. I mean, wtf? They’re not mints you wrap up and hand over with the bill. It’s so hard believing that this is supposed to be “okay” in our supposedly humane and enlightened society. How is this better than Saudi standards?
    Besides, the corporation’s argument that the standard is “not unlike” the ones for cheerleaders or dancers is absolutely bogus. Since when are waitresses supposed to be athletes and when and how in the world do they use such aptitudes in their capacity as waitresses in the restaurant? Was in on the application form? Answer: never, and no. If I was a lawyer on this case I would use that obvious bit of reality to nail that stupid company.

  14. Auriane
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Jeez. I’m 5’2″ and weigh 135, which my doctor thinks is a decent weight for me. That poor girl. Hopefully she wakes up and works elsewhere. That place will probably kill her!

  15. konkonsn
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Permalink


    The more I read this, the more sense it made. If we eliminated sexist standards at these places – or at least requirements for certain body types if not performance/appearance – then advertisements would start hyping how great it is to be served by a 5’5″, 180 lb girl with short black hair. Men would start to come to be served by the sexy waitresses, as advertised.
    It wouldn’t be a sexual revolution by any means, what with perhaps sexist performances by the staff, but it would be nicer.

  16. Shy Mox
    Posted May 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Also she’s been there for two years, I’m not sure about Michigan labor laws but its probably not a legally valid person to fire someone even if there were no weight discrimination laws.

  17. Tessa
    Posted May 25, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    It is illegal in Michigan. Period. The defense that Hooters waitresses are “entertainment” is not going hold water. Their job description says waitress, not actress/cheerleader/performer. Thankfully this girl has the rather famous Bernstein law firm on her case. She has an excellent case and I hope the judge makes Hooters pay her a huge sum of money so that they don’t think that such behavior is acceptable. And even if she were over weight, which she is not, I think other states should have the same law on the books.

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