Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hooterless Hooters

It is no secret that I believe that lawsuits are out of control and that our whiney, "I can have anything I want" population has reached a point of shame that is disheartening, to say the least. People looking back through history at this time right now will shake their heads and laugh at what people today thought was important enough to sue over or feel alarmed at how amazingly self-indulgent the people of the late 2oth and early 21st century were. I hope they will, at least. That will mean that something that can truly be called human survived and that we, maybe, got past this period of idiocy.
I hate to admit it, but the current winner for my Wall of Shame for stupid lawsuits hails from my original stomping grounds. Nikolai Grushevski, of Corpus Christi, Texas, has sued the restaurant chain Hooters, claiming that they denied him a job purely because he is male. On the surface of it, the claim is false because Hooters does have a number of jobs that use male employees. Bartenders, cooks, hosts, even managers all include male employees. Grushevski, however, specifically wanted to be a waiter and, of course, we all know that Hooters does not employ male waiters. It is rather implicit in the name of the place.
According to Grushevski and people like him (this is actually not the first time such a lawsuit has been filed against Hooters), this is sexual discrimination. They say that waiting tables is not a gender-specific job and gender should not be used as a hiring criteria. Grushevski even claims that he applied for this position because it is one of the better paying jobs in town. Having grown up around Corpus Christi, I find that claim hard to believe - there are a number of waiter position in the Corpus Christi area that would both pay better and receive higher tips - but it isn't even relative to the suit. Is Grushevski claiming that a bartender at Hooters would make less than a waitress?
Having been a waiter in south Texas, I can dismiss Grushevski's money claim out of hand. Male waiters in south Texas do not, on average, make nearly the tips that female waitresses do (I state this having been one of the highest tipped waiters in my area at the time) and a male waiter at Hooters would make pretty close to zip because he would have offended a significant portion of the customers just by being there.
That last part, however, is the important part. Hooters has spent years building up a particular brand image, and doing quite well with it. In this particular case, the job of Hooters waitress is as gender-specific as the job of Chipendale dancer. Women - most women, at least - do not go to the Chipendales expecting to see female dancers and men, on average, do not go to Hooters expecting to see male waiters. Is that discrimination? Absolutely not! There is nothing that prevents anyone from running a complimentary female dancers group (in fact, there are plenty of them) and there is nothing that prevents anyone from running a complimentary restaurant with scantily-clad male waiters.
Comparisons have been made to such ground-breaking discrimination issues as allowing women to be firefighters or men to be nurses, but the comparisons are not valid. We are not talking about businesses catering to specific customers in those cases. It would be ludicrous to open a second firehouse to hire only female firefighters (though there could definitely be a calendar and Playboy spread in the idea) and a dying person does not care who is helping so long as the helper is capable of the job.
It isn't about the vagaries of the law or the fine-tuning of social consciousness. It is about common sense. So long as the variety and options continue to exist in the wider spectrum, there is nothing wrong with a business using their own brand image requirements for hiring. An advertising campaign looks for a specific appearance in the people they hire for specific advertising jobs. Is that discrimination? The Hooters girls are Hooters biggest advertising campaign and Nikolai Grushevski needs to just go submit applications elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I think the real question here is, does this gentleman have nice looking breasts? If the gentleman is having a sex change, has already gotten breast implants, and has nice looking legs he may very well fit right in. Of course, a Hooters in California, Miama or Vegas might be more inclined to hire him.