Hooters Hit with ADA Lawsuit

March 9, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued the restaurant chain Hooters on behalf of a Rochester, New York-area waitress who claimed the company did not accommodate her multiple sclerosis.

Filed against Hooters of America in federal court in Rochester, the lawsuit alleges that the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not more effectively accommodating Melissa Vicari-Broccolo’s need to work shorter waitress shifts, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported. The situation came to a head in 2003 when she collapsed on the floor after getting home from work and spent three days bedridden because of it.

The EEOC suit charged that when Hooters changed Vicari-Broccolo’s schedule, it was to less desirable and less lucrative shifts.

“She was essentially penalized for requesting a reasonable accommodation and given less work than what she was able to do,” Mark Penzel, an EEOC senior trial attorney, told the newspaper. “And that you can’t do.”

Hooters denied the charges. “The company made every reasonable accommodation possible for the employee,” the company said in a statement released in response to the lawsuit.

Vicari-Broccolo started working at Hooters in 1998. She was diagnosed in 2003 with MS, a degenerative disease of the central nervous system.