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Hooters Employee Cassie Smith Alleges Weight Discrimination

This week, Cassandra Smith, a 20-year-old Hooters restaurant employee from Roseville, Michigan, states that during her annual evaluation on Friday, she was told that her uniform of shorts and shirt was no longer fitting properly and offered her a free gym membership to help her slim down.

She states that she was confused because she doesn’t wear the biggest uniform size that the company offers, which are small, extra small, and double extra small.

Cassie is almost 5’8” and weighs 132 pounds. For reference, according to the Metropolitan Life Tables for ideal weight for height, a woman at 5’8” with a medium frame would be considered at a healthy weight if she were between 136 and 150 pounds. Using the BMI tables, the same woman should weigh between 130 and 170 pounds to be within a healthy range.

According to Smith, two women from the company’s headquarters in Atlanta, GA performed the evaluation along with the Roseville store manager via conference call. She has been given 30 days to improve or she would be separated from the company.

Hooters has issued a statement on the issue:
"Hooters of America Inc. announced today (Tuesday) that while the company does uphold image standards for the more than 17,000 Hooters girls currently serving in the more than 455 restaurants around the world, it does not impose any weight requirement. We will not make any comment on a current employee except to say that no employee in Michigan has been counseled about their weight. However, we will say that our practice of upholding an image standard based on appearance, attitude and fitness for Hooters girls is both legal and fair. It is not unlike the standard used by the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders or the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes."

Neither the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders nor the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes have strict weight guidelines; however both do have requirements as it pertains to an employee’s appearance.

The Dallas Cowboys website states that a cheerleader should “look well proportioned in dancewear. We DO NOT have specific height and weight requirements; however, a lean figure is demanded by our uniform.”

The Radio City Hall Rockettes have height requirements – the girls must be between 5’6” and 5’10 1/2'” tall – but weight is not measured. The Rockettes must, however, undergo general health testing that includes “all sorts of things”, according to Susan Arons, vice president of public relations for Radio City Entertainment in New York. “(We) want healthy dancers, and dancers that can do the work,” Arons explains.

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