Hooters Has It Both Ways With Sex and Children, NOW Complains
Orange County's NOW chapter is among four across the state that have filed formal complaints with their respective district attorneys. The Orange County District Attorney's Office has not yet disclosed if it will launch and investigation.
The complaints boil down to this: to comply with the law, Hooters must either ban kids or sexual entertainment.
"Marketing to young children and advertising as a family restaurant while in reality being nothing but a provider of 'vicarious sexual entertainment' amounts to sexual exploitation and attempts to legitimize sex discrimination and hostile work environments for women," says Patty Bellasalma, president of California NOW, in a statement released Thursday by the organization
"Every local county or city with a Hooters should consider a ban on marketing sexual entertainment to minors," she continues, "and require that sexual entertainment businesses check IDs at the door."
NOW's complaints--also filed in Sacramento, San Bruno and San Francisco--break down as so:
- In the late 90's, Hooters, Inc. told the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that their restaurants' main function is not to provide food but, and this is allegedly according to company executives at the time, "vicarious sexual entertainment."
- The chain has used this designation to avoid compliance with regulations against sexual discrimination in the workplace.
- Hooters advertises itself as a family restaurant.
- Hooters does not comply with regulations for providers of sexual entertainment.
" It's time to end this legal bait and switch," reads the NOW statement, which also includes this:
On a typical evening, Hooters, Inc. serves children younger than 18 years of age and offers child menus, high chairs and booster seats. They also display and sell products of prurient nature, including t-shirts in child sizes with statements such as "Future Hooters Girl." According to Hooter's own employment material, a "Hooters Girl" is employed as a sexual entertainer and as part of her employment can expect to be subjected to various sexual jokes by customers and such potential contacts as buttocks slaps. Hooters of America Inc. v Phillips, Case 173 F3d 933 (4/8/99).
The NOW complaints call on government authorities receiving them to either force Hooters, Inc. to comply with EEOC prohibitions against sexual discrimination (if they wish to be a family restaurant that serves children) or comply with regulations covering providers of sexual entertainment (which prohibit children from the premises).
So far, Hooters, Inc. has not reacted publicly to NOW's complaints.