Hooters clarifies uniform policy after servers’ outcry over controversial new shorts

·5 min read

A change to the Hooters uniform at some locations has prompted a handful of the restaurant chain's servers to share their concerns on TikTok.

In the videos, which have racked up millions of views since popping up on the platform last week, Hooters servers hold up the new black shorts while sharing their thoughts. Some even describe the shorts as more “like underwear.”

One server, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear she could be fired, said that when she and others were notified about the new uniform last week, some liked the change, while others were less pleased.

“The girls with more meat on their bones, it kind of just rides right up,” the server said. “You have a wedgie all the time.”

The videos have reignited criticisms of Hooters for fostering an outdated concept centered around sexualizing servers’ bodies.

Many of the servers who shared their experiences on TikTok said they’ll continue to work for the company, meaning they will wear the new shorts. However, the TikTok videos that garnered the most views were those that featured women who seemingly joked that they plan to quit rather than resort to wearing the new outfit.

The TikTok video of the Hooters employee who jokes that she will quit and says the new shorts are "like underwear” had more than 1.3 million likes and 14.8 million views, as of Thursday.

Another video, posted by user @ggnguyen, has more than 3 million likes and has been viewed more than 16.8 million times. She captioned the video, “What’s that supposed to fit?!?”

Several Hooters servers who posted about the new shorts on TikTok declined to speak on the record out of fear of risking their jobs. But their videos remain public on TikTok, and continue to amass more views.

Hooters locations are operated by one of two companies: Hooters of America and The Original Hooters group. And not all Hooters locations are updating the uniforms.

Hooters of America, LLC, operates more than 420 Hooters restaurants in 42 states and 29 countries, according to its website. The Original Hooters Group — which has a total of 25 locations in Chicago, New York, and Tampa Bay, Florida — has nearly identical branding but operates separately from Hooters of America.

Hooters of America rolled out the shorter shorts in its Texas locations before distributing them to a wider range of locations. Locations operating under the Original Hooters franchise, however, still require servers to wear longer shorts for more coverage.

A representative for the Original Hooters Group said that its locations will continue using the same uniforms that servers have worn for decades.

“The ‘Original’ Hooters Restaurants located throughout Tampa Bay, Chicagoland, and Manhattan ... will not be changing their iconic uniform of orange shorts and white uniform tops that has made the brand universally famous,” the spokesperson said in an email statement.

Hooters of America said it appreciates feedback “both positive and negative, regarding a more accommodating and inclusive image policy on tattoos, jewelry, nails, hairstyles as well as new uniforms — to include new top styles, shorts and the addition of socks.”

“The new uniforms were the result of a collaboration with Hooters Girls,” Hooters of America said in its email statement. “These uniforms have been worn for months in several Texas markets and have received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from both Hooters Girls and customers.”

In an updated statement sent to NBC News on Saturday, Hooters of America said that Hooters servers would be allowed to choose to wear either their classic uniforms or the new one.

"They can determine which style of shorts best fits their body style and personal image," the statement read.

The statement went on to say that the "Hooters Girls" are the company's "most valuable asset" and that they remain committed to empowering the women who work for them.

"We’re excited to see a national trend toward self-expression and inclusivity that bodes well for our marketplace. We work continuously with our Hooters Girls to refresh and update the image of our brand ambassadors and to empower them to feel their best while at work," the statement reads.

Uniforms have long been a contentious issue for Hooters, and were once the center of litigation against the company.

In 2010, the restaurant chain was sued by roughly 400 at-the-time current and former employees in the Sacramento area as part of a class action lawsuit over the uniforms, hours and pay. The suit was settled after the restaurant agreed, among other things, to relax the uniforms, according to NBC News affiliate KCRA3.

Hooters said it plans to work with staff to make sure the uniforms are “comfortable while reflecting current style.”

The server who spoke to NBC said the shorts haven’t been a problem for her. However, she understands that for other women the shorter shorts could be uncomfortable.

When they were first rolled out at several Texas locations, the shorts were seemingly well received, the server said. However, as the new uniform has made its way to more locations across the U.S., it’s seemingly been less popular, she said.

“One of the girls was like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re super cute. I love them,’” the server said. “And the other girls were like, ‘This is way too short. My privates are hanging out.’”

This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting