Hooters Current Ethical Issue Over the years the national chain restaurant Hooters has had lawsuits brought against them for discrimination based on gender. Currently, the issue is weight discrimination. Not just one lawsuit, but two, and maybe three lawsuits may be filed. The waitresses claim that they lost their jobs because they weighed too much. They were put on a 30-day weight probation and offered gym memberships. The ethical issue here is the fact the company practices such discrimination and justifies their actions by claiming that the waitresses are entertainers.
Not to mention, the waitress in question weighed 13 pounds less than when she was hires in 2008. Unfortunately for Hooters the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act Prohibits discrimination by employers based on height and weight. Hooters is a large global corporation with a large legal department. An over site of this law, from 1976, is typically unheard of occurring in such a large corporation. This is an example of operating a business how the corporation sees fit. Without any regard to the law or individuals that work for them. Which Ethical Theories Apply
Consequentialists make decisions based upon the consequences of their decision. The consequences to operate their business by placing employees on weight probation, even though there is a law in the state of Michigan that makes such an act illegal, outweighed any possible lawsuit that may arise. The company obviously believes that a lawsuit that may happen is less costly that to operate their business in accordance with the state’s laws. Deontological theory states that a decision based on what is right according to the value of rights. Clearly, Hooters, does not value the rights of their employees too much.
If they did, they would not conduct business in a manner that goes against state laws. As well as the feelings of the employees themselves were not taken into account. The waitress in question weighed 13 pounds less than when she was hired two years ago. Hooters of America, based in Atlanta, Ga. , has stated that they do not impose a weight requirement for their employees. They claim that their waitresses are comparable to the Dallas cowboy’s cheerleaders. The company also stated that it does challenge their employees about image, but the company has not asked any employee in Michigan to lose weight.
According to the attorney representing the employee in question, Hooters mis-classifies their workers as entertainers. The bottom line is that Hooters of America is so big they believe that they can operate their business in any fashion possible. They make decisions based on that they can just simply fight any lawsuit, and drag it out for years, or simply pay off a person to make an issue go away with their deep pockets. Ethical Conflict The conflict in ethical standards at a Hooters restaurant located in Michigan brought about two lawsuits by former Hooters servers declaring weight discrimination.
The term “weight probation” policy was used as a reason for termination. Cassandra Smith, 20, of Roseville said her civil rights were violated when she was placed on “weight probation” and offered a gym membership so she could fit into her extra small uniform (Jun, 2010). A second lawsuit was presented by Leanne Convery, 23, of Harrison Township who was on “weight probation” and eventually fired when she did not comply (Jun, 2010). According legal experts, Michigan is the only state to ban discrimination based on weight (Neavling, 2010).. Many people believe weight is something that can be controlled.
The exception of discrimination based on appearance relates to entertainers, actors, and models (Neavling, 2010). These people are hired to accommodate a specific appearance (Neavling, 2010). Organizational Leadership The Hooters franchise employees more than 17,000 Hooters Girls. The corporation also employs women in all other positions from kitchen staff, all the way up to vice president of Training and Development. The company boasts, “Sex appeal is legal and it sells” (About Hooters, 2008). It appears, at least in this case which the store level managers did not maintain adequate documentation of performance reviews or terminations.
The corporation’s Vice-President of Marketing (Mike McNeil) has been the voice of Hooters of America during this issue. “Claims that Hooters exploits attractive women are as ridiculous as saying the NFL exploit men who are big and fast” (About Hooters, 2008). There seems to be a major contradiction between the waitresses and management in the vocabulary used during meeting between the two. Multiple waitresses are claiming that management has placed them on “weight probation” and that they have lost their jobs when they did not comply appropriately with the guidelines of the probation.
Management denies ever using this term and simply states that the company will occasionally “challenge employees about their image” (Engel, 2010. ) Conclusion Over the years Hooters has had several lawsuits brought against them regarding weight issues. The employees were fired because of weight gain and were on 30 day probation. Hooters broke the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act regarding discrimination against employee’s weight. Hooters claims they do not fire employees on the grounds of weight gain. Employees who had weight problems were offered gym memberships.
Hooters needs to offer there employees a full detailed list and expectations of there ethical standards before employment. Employees shall not be required to weigh a certain amount due to people’s different body types. What will be asked of the employee is to try their best to stay in fit with the uniform they started employment with. Each employee will be offered a discounted membership at a local gym. During weekly meetings Hooters will offer health tips to employees. Hooters will offer monthly incentives for maintaining their image.
An employee who does gain weight the company will offer a verbal warning and will work with the employee to work on the weight issue. The company also plans on keep adequate documentation on each individual employee. References About Hooters. (2008). Retrieved from http://www. Hooters. com/About. aspx Engel, J. (2010). Rare Michigan law may help waitress win weight discrimination lawsuit against Hooters. The Grand Rapids Press. Retrieved from http://www. mlive. com/news/index. ssf/2010/05/rare_michigan_law_may_help_wai. html Jun, C. (2010). Hooters official disputes 2 suits claiming weight