ACLU accuses Chili's of forcing a lesbian server to quit
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The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday charged Chili’s Grill & Bar with discrimination, accusing the restaurant of forcing a lesbian server to quit because of the way she dressed.

Meagan Hunter, a server at a Chili’s restaurant in Phoenix, wore a men’s button-up shirt, slacks and boat shoes, an outfit that was reportedly deemed “inappropriate” by a district manager who saw her at a manager training seminar.


“All too often, women and LGBTQ people are excluded from opportunities at work and school because they don’t look the part,” the ACLU said in a release. “In Meagan’s case, her boss told her she wouldn’t advance professionally because she did not look feminine enough.”

The ACLU claims that Hunter was told by her general manager to dress more “gender appropriate” in order to be promoted to a manger position.

“Are you telling me that I need to have my breasts hanging out to be successful in your company?” Hunter asked her manager.

“Not in those words,” he responded, according to the ACLU release.

Hunter claims that the manager told her she could not wear a chef-style coat like his because “it’s for boys.”

After the incident, Hunter left her job at the restaurant, later learning from co-workers that the manager allegedly had said he “didn’t want a gay girl behind the bar” because he did not think she would attract the “right kind” of customers, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU filed the discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, citing federal laws that ban discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

“When employers punish workers for who they are and what they look like, they lose valuable people like Meagan,” the ACLU said. “That’s not only wrong and bad for business — it’s also against the law.”

A Chili’s Grill & Bar spokesperson told The Hill that the restaurant was “alarmed” by the allegations, and does not tolerate “any discriminatory behavior in our restaurants.”

The spokesperson said that Hunter was not denied a promotion, but was “offered the opportunity to be promoted into our Certified Shift Leader program to take the next step on her career journey.”

The spokesperson acknowledged that Hunter was given “feedback” about the restaurant’s dress code for managers regardless of gender or sexuality, but said that “absolutely no mention was made of any need to conform to gender-specific clothing.”

“To all of our Guests, fans, former and current Team Members - we love you just as you are, and we intend to show that every single day,” the spokesperson said.

--Updated Jan. 17 at 10:41 a.m.