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Hooters settles discrimination lawsuit, agrees to hire a few men servers

September 30, 1997

CHICAGO (AP) _ Hooters has agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle a lawsuit filed by men who were denied employment by the restaurant chain, which is known for its voluptuous and scantily clad women bartenders and servers, the Chicago Sun-Times reported today.

While there will be men waiting on Hooters customers in the future, the agreement also provides that women will still make up the bulk of the serving staff at the chain’s restaurants, the newspaper said.

Three Chicago-area men sued Hooters after being denied employment at an Orland Park, Ill., restaurant. They’ll each get $19,100 in the settlement.

Four men who filed a similar lawsuit in Maryland will receive $10,350 each. The rest of a $2 million sum will be split among men who sought host, bartending or serving jobs with Hooters between Dec. 25, 1990, and June 1, 1997.

Hooters also agreed to pay $1.75 million to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the class-action case and will create two positions at its restaurants that can be filled by either men or women. The newspaper did not indicate what sort of uniform male employees would wear.

The settlement comes more than a year after the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission quietly dropped its own four-year investigation of the complaints, saying it had better cases to pursue.

Hooters originally defended its failure to hire men in the contested positions, saying it was ``providing vicarious sexual recreation″ and adding that ``female sexuality is a bona fide occupation.″ It cited all-female jobs like Playboy bunnies and members of the high-kicking dance troupe the Rockettes.

The company even launched an advertising campaign featuring a burly, mustachioed man wearing a blond wig and Hooters uniform, holding a plate of chicken wings and exclaiming: ``Come on, Washington. Get a grip.″

The deal was signed earlier this month. It will be finalized after a hearing in November, the Sun-Times reported.

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