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Hooters has just been sued for the third time in the state of California for illegal employment practices. The restaurant, best known for its pneumatic wait staff and hot wings, is under fire for its treatment of employees as relates to the Hooters uniform and whether or not employees are allowed breaks. Former employee Maya Galakhova is one of the plaintiffs in the suit filed by attorney Burton Boltuch. Boltuch has also filed suits against Hooters restaurants in Southern California as well as in the San Francisco Bay Area.
According to the report by local Sacramento News KCRA, Galakhova joined Hooters believing it to be a "fun, positive, outgoing place to work," but instead found a workplace with "a lot of negativity." Specifically regarding the workplace issues that are legally actionable, Galahova alleges that the wait staff was never allowed to take breaks and was made to purchase their own staff uniforms. According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, "If an employer requires that an employee wear a uniform, the employer must pay the cost of the uniform. (Labor Code Section 2802, Industrial Welfare Commission Orders, Section 9.) The term 'uniform' includes wearing apparel and accessories of distinctive design and color." It is virtually certain the court would agree the Hooters uniform is "distinctive."
KCRA was unable to elicit a response from the Sacramento Hooters regarding the specific suit, however the company did issue a statement regarding the earlier Bay Area suit. The company said, "If there have been any violations of company policies that have harmed employees, we will act promptly and aggressively to correct any mistakes and to make whole any employee who has been harmed." The Bay Area suit will begin mediation this spring.
A similar suit against the company was brought in New York in 2009. The New York Hooters plaintiffs sued for being required to purchase those luxurious tank top, shorts and suntan hose uniforms, as well as for being forced to share their pooled tips with the kitchen staff.