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Waitress Sues Hooters, Says She Was Forced to Quit After Brain Surgery

Screengrab: ABC News
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Chestaurant group Hooters is being sued by a former waitress who claims that she was forced out of her job when she refused to wear a wig. According to the court documents, when waitress Sandra Lupo returned to work after brain surgery, the regional manager told her that she had to wear a wig to cover her buzzcut and visible scar, ABC News reports. Lupo claims she would not wear a wig because it would have interfered with her healing, and claims that her hours were drastically cut, forcing her to leave.

It gets worse. Lupo had been working at the St. Peters, MO Hooters for five years when a noncancerous mass was discovered in her brain. The St Louis Post-Dispatch spoke with Lupo's lawyer who explained that Lupo had been working at Hooters to pay her way through nursing school. While the managers of the Hooters location where Lupo worked have not commented, the company made the following statement: "Hooters of America believes the lawsuit is without foundation, denies the accusations and has filed a motion that the lawsuit be dismissed."

The suit argues that Hooters violated the Missouri's Human Rights Act for discriminating against a disabled employee (Lupo). The suit also claims that Hooters violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act by using "reduction in hours to force out employees." A St Louis University law professor explained to ABC 7: "In the disability context, if Hooters is to say she's not as attractive now without this wig, if they're selling her attractiveness that might be a real function of her job and mean she isn't qualified by the Americans With Disabilities Act."

Whether Hooters will actually be able to defeat the case by arguing Lupo was just too busted after surgery to properly do her job remains to be seen. The case is with the U.S. District Court in St. Louis, after having been moved from the St. Charles County Circuit Court at Hooters' request. Below, CNN interviews a defense attorney and legal analyst on the merits of the case.

Video: Hooters waitress sues over wig

· Hooters Waitress Says Post-Brain Surgery Appearance Cost Her Job [ABC News]
· Suit says Hooters waitress forced out after surgery [SLPD]
· All Hooters Coverage on Eater [-E-]


4061 Veterans Memorial Pkwy,  St Peters, Missouri 63376