Former Hooters Waitress Claims She Was Ousted After Brain Surgery

Sandra Lupo says Hooter's discriminated against her for having brain surgery. At 27, Sandra Lupo received some scary news: She needed brain surgery to remove a noncancerous cranial mass. She had a buzz cut, the surgery was completed, and she returned to work, with a scar. But what followed, says the former Hooters waitress, was even more horrifying: Her St. Peters, Mo., employer required her to wear a wig. (Lupo is pictured on the left, in a healed state.)

According to a lawsuit that she filed in February, Hooters caused her "extreme stress" and the wig prevented the scar from healing. Claiming disability discrimination, Lupo also says that her hours at work were reduced until she was forced to quit to find new work. She is seeking damages of at least $25,000, in addition to lost wages.

Lupo, an employee at Hooters in Missouri since 2005, says that she took medical leave for the surgery, and her manager, Brent Holmberg, initially told her that she could use "jewelry" to cover up her scar. But then, she claims, she was informed by regional manager Joe Orzent that "she could not return to work unless she wore a wig." Hooters has not responded to media requests for comment and has filed motions for the case to be dismissed.

More: 7 Ways You Can Be Fired For Your Appearance -- Legally


Upon returning to work on July 21, Lupo at first tried a wig, which she says she had to purchase on her own. But she decided that the wig was both uncomfortable and interrupted the healing process, according to her lawyer, Larry Bagsby. So she ditched it. She says that she was then asked to leave work and her hours "were reduced to the point [she] could not earn an income," forcing her to quit.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, she is currently working as a registered nurse in the St. Louis area. She says she began working at Hooters in 2005 to help pay for her education in nursing. Lupo, for her part, first filed a complaint with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. In her complaint, she said that her customers had no problem with how she looked without the wig. "My customers were not offended, and were in fact curious about the obvious scar from my surgery," she said.

The Americans With Disabilities Act bans employers from discriminating against qualified workers who either have a disability or a perceived disability. In her lawsuit, Lupo also claims Hooters violated the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, saying that the company reduced her hours as a strategy to get her to quit.

Hooters, and other so-called "breastaurants," have been booming in America. And they are no strangers to legal and public relations scrutiny over their workplace culture. In speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Marcia McCormick, an associate professor of law at St. Louis University, said so-called "breastaurants" tend to argue "We're not just selling wings or food ... we're selling sexuality. We're selling the flirting," she said.

But even if Hooters tries to use that argument, legal experts such as McCormick doubt that Lupo will walk away empty-handed. "Every case I know about has generally settled," she said.
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Molly

That is really sad for her. I also can see from both sides. Hopefully they get that all figured out soon.

Molly | http://terryrossplumbing.com/services.php

January 17 2014 at 4:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phillius Thomas

I actually can see both sides. If the costumers were okay with it, then a big deal it was not. If they had an issue, though, and the boss sees that what he hired her for is no longer there, then firing her would have been better than forcing her to quit. Like my friend, he got his knee messed up at his work as a assistant mechanic technition. They were nice about it and helped him out with the bills, but they fired him because he could no longer do his job, which is okay.

Phillius | igiftsandthings.com gifts and things

September 04 2013 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
rocker

I GUESS BREAST INPLANT SCARS ARE OK

April 10 2013 at 12:57 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
rocker

was she getting one put in LOL

April 10 2013 at 12:55 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
lesturgill

If Hooters actually cares about its image.....whatever it may be.....I think a local manager and a district manager should be fired for their complete lack of humanity. And, Ms. Lupo should be compensated fully.

April 10 2013 at 12:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mike krachala

boycott hooters this crap needs to stop

April 10 2013 at 11:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

This just showed you how much corporation value their employees. Hooter operates like a house of ill repute anyway so this just magnifies that attitudes and work atmosphere all along. I don't care what you look like as long as the restaurant provide good food and service but many corporations does not work that way today and believe they can get away with what is being legal only and often times it may not be since you are powerless to bring it to their attention. Generally you will have to let an attorney involved in order to raise your priority or otherwise you will be ignored. Know your rights and use all the channels for conflict resolutions before you bring in legal actions. Make sure you have a solid case and deep pockets and supporting documents as well as testimonies ready at the trials if you go that far.

April 10 2013 at 10:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
WESLEY

I thought Hooters CEO was on the Television show , Undercover Boss within the past year, His goal was to make Hooters a Better place tyo work, Does not seem that is working at all, The CEO almost fired a Mgr. for makeing his employees eat a plate of pork and beans so they could leave early. The Manager of this Hooters should be the one FIRED. You can say BOO on Hooters, But on one twists your arm and makes you bo inside. These are beatiful people just makeing a liveing and some butt head firesone of them, I guess if it were the Manager who had the scare, everything would be O.K.

April 10 2013 at 10:40 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dimag56in41

well, whether it's wrong....or whether it's right, this is yet another place we should STOP giving our money to.....fine print or no fine print!

back in the '70's we'd have had a walk out, and none would have cared if we lost our job. RIGHT IS RIGHT....WRONG IS WRONG.

but the youth of today are self centered and VERY VERY WEAK.

April 10 2013 at 10:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
weezie1773

scars do not fall under the disability act my love. sorry. its all fine print and reading but not a justifiable case to win my luv.
yes allot of scars....lol....tattoos, but the key word is UNDER.
hooters girls are fantasy girls. thats the goal! most are not what you see. 75% is all pushup and water bra, but the bottom line is its all about fantasy and wishful thoughts.
my studies were criminal law so once she admits that she knew these things were in the paperwork she signed, all will be tossed but we do wish her well in recovery

April 10 2013 at 9:34 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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