Hooters Employees Receive Favorable Ruling
Wednesday, September, 23, 2015
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently provided a re-affirmation to waitresses at the popular chicken wings establishment: employers cannot use mandatory arbitration agreements to limit labor rights for employees of a company. It is a reiteration of the NLRB’s basic policy. The message came in response to a September 1st ruling on a series of charges by employees of the restaurant against Ontario Wings LLC and Hoot Winc LLC, the two companies that control a Hooters franchise in the Ontario Mills mall near San Bernadino, CA.
A waitress at the restaurant, Alexis Hanson, complained to the NLRB that she had been terminated for violating rules in the Hooter’s employee handbook and that she believed those rules infringed in her labor rights. The complaint was filed in 20013 and in 2014, NLRB Administration Law Judge William Nelson Cates ruled in her favor. A three member panel then affirmed this ruling on September 1st.
This particular Hooters requires employees to sign, as a condition of employment, an arbitration agreement that stated employees would be willing to settle all claims through arbitration. Though the agreement did not explicitly prohibit litigation, employees were certainly discouraged from taking any other path beside arbitration in a dispute.
The case was similar to one from earlier in the year regarding an Applebee’s franchise in Rehobeth Beach, DE. Neither employees from Hooters, nor from Applebee’s are unionized, but are eligible to file claims with the NLRB. The recent September 1st ruling officially applies only to the Ontario Mills Hooters, but as a statement of policy applies to all Hooters and other employers.