Hooter Girls and Arbitration Clauses in Employment Contracts

Mandatory arbitration and mediation clauses in employment policies and contracts are increasingly coming under fire.  Some states have passed legislation that prevents employers from mandating that employees agree to arbitrate legal claims in order to be hired.   Connecticut is just one of many states that has taken such legislative steps.

So unpopular are these arbitration clauses that even judges are not permitting the mere existence of such arbitration agreements to result in a one-way ticket out of court and into arbitration.  This month, a Michigan judge did not dismiss two Hooter Girls’ lawsuit against their employer when Hooters attempted to compel the matter into arbitration.  The reason?  The judge was not convinced that the women knowingly entered the arbitration agreement to waive their right to relief in a court of law. 

The political landscape in Michigan is not ripe for employers to exercise an arbitration clause with an unwilling opponent, if this case is any indication.  However, the Hooter Girls may later wish that they’d have gone through arbitration.  If the court system is backlogged due to increased filings, overwhelming numbers of criminal matters that get priority over their claims, and on-going furloughs and other cost-saving measures that many governmental entities – including courts – are facing, their case could be heard years from now.  

There is no “speedy trial” in civil matters, at least nowadays.

Hooter Girls Sue Over Weight Issues


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