A former “Hooters Girl” filed a lawsuit claiming that the Hooters restaurant she worked at discriminated against her based on her weight. At 5’8” and 132 pounds, Cassandra Smith was allegedly told by supervisors at the Roseville, Michigan Hooters to “join a gym in order to improve herself.” Her complaint alleges that she was placed on 30 days of “weight probation” because she had trouble fitting into her uniform. The sizes came in extra extra small, extra small, and small. Her supervisors at Hooters told Smith that they would understand if she wanted to quit since they could not accommodate her size.
Smith’s complaint was filed under a unique Michigan law that outlaws weight discrimination. Currently, there are no federal laws outlawing weight discrimination, although the Americans with Disabilities Act, and some state laws, protect workers whose excessive weight constitutes a disability or is perceived to be a disability. Michigan stands alone as the only state that outlaws weight-based discrimination in employment. Washington, D.C. prohibits “personal appearance” discrimination. Five municipalities also have protections against discrimination based on weight — San Francisco, California; Santa Cruz, California; Binghamton, New York; Urbana, Illinois; and Madison, Wisconsin.