Hooters sued over racial slur on receipt

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Kevin Pang and Kevin Pang | The Daily Wildcat The "Hooters Girls" pose for a picture with customers at Beijing's Hooters in China. The chain restaurant, known for their chicken wings and attractive waitresses, came to China four years ago, and opened a branch in Beijing last September. (Kevin Pang/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

NEW YORK — A Korean-American man who got a receipt identifying him as “CHINX” when he ordered Buffalo shrimp and chicken wings to go has filed suit seeking damages for the slight from a Hooters restaurant in Queens.

Kisuk Cha, 25, a Pennsylvania man who was dining with his girlfriend in the Fresh Meadows section of Queens in early July, was “shocked, stunned, mortified, humiliated and severely distressed,” according to a complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.

“He wanted to confront his server but was paralyzed with anguish,” Cha claims in his lawsuit. “He could not eat the food he had just bought as his stomach was churning and he could not be sure that someone did not spit in his food. … He does not feel welcome at Hooters and indeed questions whether he is welcomed at any non-Korean establishments.”

Ed McCabe, a lawyer for Strix Llc — which owns four Hooters restaurants in Queens and on Long Island — and owner William Harley acknowledged the incident, but said the hostess responsible for the racial description has resigned and the restaurant isn’t liable because her actions violated corporate policy.

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“It was an isolated incident,” McCabe said.

The word “Chinx” appeared on a section of the receipt designed to allow servers in the bar area to describe customers waiting to pick up food so they can be identified. Typically, McCabe said, it might read “blond” or “redhead.”

Cha alleged that his server, identified as “Shenika” on the receipt, giggled at him. But McCabe said an internal investigation initiated by the Hooters chain national office identified another employee, a 20-year-old hostess, as the culprit. She resigned, and would have been fired, he said.

The conduct was contrary to training Hooters gives its servers, McCabe said, and a review of three months’ worth of receipts found no other racial descriptions.

“She was remorseful,” McCabe said of the hostess who resigned. “I think there was a complete lack of comprehension of the insensitivity of the remark.”


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