A Hooters waitress was awarded her denied benefits in court. Sara Dye had been fired from her job after recovering from an attack because her bruises did not maintain a ‘glamorous appearance.’
Hooters officials say that Dye abandoned her job. They also admit that her bruises made her temporarily ineligible to work as a “Hooter’s Girl.”
The administrative law judge that heard the public hearing recently on the behalf of Dye’s request of benefits ruled in the 27-year-old former Hooter Girl’s favor. Her “inability to work due to bruises” was not a matter of workplace misconduct.
During 2008 Dye had been the victim several times to domestic violence. On September 3 she was badly beaten and some of her hair cut off after she left work for the day.
The next day Dye and her employers talked, agreeing that she should heal for a few weeks before working in the restaurant. General Manager Gina Sheedy said that the bruises that Dye had would have been visible outside of the Hooters uniform.
As reported by the Des Moines Register she was then asked if Dye had asked to work immediately would she been allowed to Sheedy replied:
“No, probably not,” Sheedy replied. “She probably would not be able to work because of her black eye and the bruises on her face. … Our handbook 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.”
Sheedy then went on to say that Dye could now resume working,assuming that she maintained a glamorous appearance.
Michelle Duvall testified that Dye talked to her about returning to work after she had been recovering for a week.
“She told me that she was very badly beaten, she (had been) unconscious, she was in the hospital,” Duvall said. “She was like, ‘I really want to work next week. …’ I said, ‘You need to come in and speak to Gina and let her see your appearance.'”
Judge Teresa Hillary asked Duvall what would happen if a waitress had to have her hair cut because of an injury from an accident. Duvall answered that the employee handbook states that a waitress’ hair must be styled in the manner as if they were going out on a big date or appearing in a photo shoot.
Dye testified that Hooters management had been supportive during her previous ‘personal problems’ but that when she called the restaurant about returning to work in late September she was told by a co-worker that she had been fired. Dye understood that she couldn’t work because of her appearance immediately after the attack because her body appearance wasn’t up to par.