Two former servers have filed an EEOC complaint claiming that they were sexually harassed at a suburban Chicago location of Twin Peaks, the mountain lodge–themed Hooters rival that brags that it offers customers “Scenic Views.” Twin Peaks maintains that it strikes a “wholesome, yet sexy, Girl Next Door Image,” but the servers allege it was tantamount “to work at a strip club.”
Their attorney, the ex–Fox News commentator Tamara Holder who settled her own sexual-assault case last year against the news channel, didn’t mince words in her press statement: “Twin Peaks is engaging in disgusting, systemic abuse of young women across the country,” it reads. “Many of the young women are still in high school, others are trying to pay college tuition.” She adds that these female servers “signed up to work at a ‘family-friendly’ restaurant, not a strip joint,” and argues that the Twin Peaks business model “baits young women into wearing one uniform, then after they’re hired, orders them to wear crop-tops, bikinis, and lingerie.”
Among the women’s allegations: being forced to change in full view of kitchen staff, having to send management pictures of work outfits (“lingerie and bikinis”) from dressing rooms to ensure that the ensembles were “revealing enough for work,” and getting fat-shamed for eating during a shift. Bosses would reportedly line up female workers against a wall before the restaurant opened each day, and grade them on “how taut and toned their bodies were.” Higher grades reportedly meant more lucrative table assignments.
The uniforms were scandalous enough for police to get involved. On one occasion — “Sweetheart Lingerie Week” around Valentine’s Day — officers entered the restaurant, and according to their police report, observed “almost every employee dressed in lingerie that exposed their buttocks.” The women ultimately got cited for indecent exposure. Managers allegedly insisted that they’d handle it; the police trouble was for simply wearing work uniforms, after all. But the women claim that only later did they learn that a Twin Peaks attorney had entered guilty pleas for everyone, leaving them all with inexpugnable convictions for indecent exposure.
Twin Peaks calls the charges “outrageous” and “baseless,” adding that the company “does not tolerate any type of harassment or discrimination and has strict policies and training practices in place to make sure every guest and employee is treated equally and with great respect.” But Holder told the Sun-Times yesterday that the Chicago location’s problems permeate the entire chain, and says she’s in the process of drafting a class-action lawsuit. She claims that her phone “is ringing off the hook right now.”