A Hooters restaurant in Greensboro, North Carolina is facing a lawsuit by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for alleged racial discrimination against its employees. According to the EEOC, the franchise location temporarily terminated Black and darker-skinned staff members, also known as “Hooters girls,” during the early months of the pandemic in March 2020. The agency stated that 43 employees were laid off during this period, and when the establishment recalled employees in May 2020, mostly white or light-skinned employees were brought back.
The EEOC’s lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, claims a marked shift in the racial composition of the restaurant’s Hooters Girls workforce. Out of the 13 employees recalled, 12 were reported to be white and/or have light skin tones (whatever the latter means).
Additionally, the EEOC reported a 43 percent decrease in dark-skinned and/or Black employees from before the layoffs until after rehiring. The complaint also alleges racial hostility and preferential treatment of white employees by dark-skinned and/or Black employees while they were working at the establishment.
The plaintiffs argue Hooters’ actions violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects employees from workplace discrimination and harassment. The EEOC seeks monetary relief, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and injunctive relief against the Hooters franchise. Neither Hooters nor the EEOC have provided comments on the lawsuit at this time.