California Waitress Sues Over Skimpy-Uniform Requirement
Waitresses dressed in skimpy outfits may be the rage at the moment, but a food server in Southern California has put her foot down, suing her former employer for sexual harassment and for requiring her to wear short, plaid skirts while working.
Courtney Scaramella, who worked at O'Hara's bar in Los Angeles' Westwood neighborhood, claims that co-owner Jack Bendetti and general manager Ronald "Ram" McDonnel enforced the dress code as a way of increasing profits, ostensibly from male patrons, the LA Weekly reports."It wasn't fair to me, it wasn't fair to the other girls who were working there," Scaramella told Los Angeles TV station KTLA (via The Huffington Post).
"Everyone was offended by it. Nobody wanted to do it, but unfortunately, jobs are hard to come by right now and some people were stuck," the 23-year-old said.
Scaramella said that she gave her new skirt a try for a few days before deciding not to wear it, which resulted in her termination, according to her attorney, Toni Jaramilla (pictured at the far right of the accompanying photo, with Scaramella).
"Thereafter, her hours were cut," Jaramilla told the TV station. "She was not given the same shifts that would allow her to gain good tips and income, and then she was terminated."
An attorney representing O'Hara's owners said that Scaramella's lawsuit has no merit and that she wasn't fired. The attorney claimed Scaramella quit her job for unknown reasons, according to KTLA's report.
In her complaint, Scaramella said that she feared drunk customers could easily tear off the skirt, which was held in place by Velcro. The court document also note instances in which Bendetti offended the waitress, the Daily Bruin reports.
Those instances include one in which Bendetti allegedly required bartenders rate female customers on a 10-point scale and then give a free shot of alcohol to the women given a score of six or higher.
Having waitresses dress in revealing uniforms is a strategy some restaurants are using to boost business. The Associated Press reports that the top three chains behind trendsetter Hooters have seen sales grow by 30 percent or more in the last year.
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David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.
Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
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