A former Hooters waitress is suing the company for forcing her out of her job at their St. Peters, Mo., restaurant after she underwent brain surgery.
Sandra Lupo claims she was told that she would be able to return to work with a shaved head and healing scars from the surgery.
According to the discrimination lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, her boss, regional manager Joe Ozment, told her she would be required to wear a wig. The suit claims the restaurant then cut her hours, forcing her to quit.
Lupo told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch she started working at Hooters in 2005, but she was out of work for about a month last summer so that doctors could remove a large, non-cancerous mass from her brain. A piece of her skull had to be removed by surgeons, although her lawyer claims the surgery had no long-term effects on Lupo.
The lawsuit filed in St. Charles County Circuit Court alleges that her manager Brent Holmberg visited Lupo in the hospital, reassuring her that she had a job to return to. She claims he suggested she wear jewelry or a “chemo-cap” to draw attention away from her scars.
Her attorney, Larry Bagsby, claims Lupo was “humiliated” by her employers. He says she borrowed a wig and tried wearing it, but the surgical scars would not heal properly and hurt with the wig on her head.
She claims her hours were cut until she could was forced to quit.
The suit holds Hooters in violation of Missouri’s Human Rights Act for discrimination against someone with both and actual and perceived disability.
Bagsby says his client is now a registered nurse, making her unavailable for interview.
Hooters, which bills itself “delightfully tacky yet unrefined,” denied Lupo’s claim and will have to arbitrate. The suit, seeking unspecified damages, was moved to federal court last week at the request of Hooters.