N.O.W. Charges Hooters with Exposing Minors to Sexual Entertainment

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SAN BRUNO ( KTLA) - The always-controversial restaurant chain Hooters can now add the California chapter of the National Organization for Women to the list of groups that have found its employment and marketing practices objectionable.

The NOW chapter filed a complaint Thursday with the San Bruno Police Department, accusing the local Hooters restaurant and several others in the state with exposing minors to sexual entertainment. The suit seeks to force the restaurants to comply with local adult entertainment regulations.

"Hooters identifies itself to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission ( EEOC) and on its website as a place of 'vicarious sexual entertainment' and not as a family restaurant," the complaint says. "Yet Hooters, Inc. operates as a family restaurant in San Francisco, California without complying with state or local sexual entertainment licensing and security requirements."

On Friday, a Hooters spokeswoman today sent a response to the NOW complaint, which said in part: "Hooters of America, Inc. today announced that it has not been contacted by any authorities in connection with NOW's complaint filing in California, which attempts to paint Hooters as being in violation of the 'Adult Entertainment' codes of Orange County and the State of California. The company believes the charges are ridiculous and that the popular restaurant chain, which currently has 24 locations in California, is not even close to violating these codes.

"'Hooters Girls are sexy and vivacious. The element of sex appeal is certainly prevalent in our restaurants, and is the essence of the Hooters experience, but the Hooters brand of sex appeal is wholesome and that of the All-American cheerleader, not a seedy strip club. Hooters is no more in violation of California's adult entertainment codes than the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition is. Guys can't do that job either."

It is no secret that Hooters promotes itself as a different type of restaurant that boasts female sex appeal. Yet in the company profile on its corporate website, Hooters acknowledges the feminist movement, and claims that the restaurant is a product of what groups like NOW fought for in the 1960s in allowing women to choose their own careers.

Hooters currently boast 455 restaurants. The San Bruno location opened earlier this year.

"Claims that Hooters exploits attractive women are as ridiculous as saying the NFL exploits men who are big and fast," Hooters says on its website. "Hooters Girls have the same right to use their natural female sex appeal to earn a living as do super models Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell."

NOW's complaint is associated with a ruling that dates back to the late 1990s by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The agency charged that Hooters' hiring practices discriminated against men. The EEOC, however, never enforced that action.

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