Former Hooters employee sues for sexual harassmentJanuary 21, 1997
Web posted at: 9:10 p.m. EST
CHARLESTON, South Carolina (CNN) -- A class-action lawsuit charging sexual harassment was filed against Hooters of America Tuesday by a woman who said the restaurant chain failed to protect her as promised.
The attorney representing plaintiff Annette Phillips said Hooters did not give their employees the opportunity to enforce their rights against sexual harassment.
At a press conference announcing the suit, Phillips said, "I was sexually harassed, and when I tried to complain I was sued."
"I was a good employee, and I understood the job required me to wear shorts and t-shirts. But in return, Hooters agreed to protect me from sexual harassment. I was not protected, and when I tried to complain I was told I had no federal rights."
Phillips worked as a waitress and bartender for Hooters in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, from May 1989 to June 1996, said that a former manager exposed himself to her. She detailed several incidents, saying "at staff meetings a manager pulled his shorts down showing his underwear. The same manager made the girls play degrading games ... but the final draw for me was when I was working the bar and a relative of a former Hooters executive... came up behind me and slapped and grabbed my rear end. When I yelled at him not to touch me, he looked at me and in an angry voice said he would cram my shorts down my face."
Phillips said when she complained to her manager he told her to "let it go."
According to Thomas J. Henderson, deputy director of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights, who is representing Phillips, the lawsuit alleges that "Hooters put its female employees at risk of sexual harassment through its uniforms it required them to wear and the marketing of its restaurants."
The suit also charges that the restaurant chain forced their employees to give up their right under rules barring sexual harassment.
Henderson said the suit was filed late last week in federal district court in Charleston.
Henderson said he did not know how many Hooters employees would join the suit. He said an 800 number (800-749-3141) had been set up so that Hooters employees could call for more information.
There was no immediate response from Hooters of America, located in Atlanta.
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