Twin Peaks was recently hit with a lawsuit over allegations of harassment and sex discrimination.
A group of former Twin Peaks employees recently filed a federal lawsuit over allegations that their risqué uniforms and a “system for grading their bodies amounted to sex discrimination and harassment.” The suit was filed by 34 former employees in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Twin Peaks, a restaurant chain, is known for featuring scantily clad waitstaff.
According to the lawsuit, Twin Peaks “preys on vulnerable young women and is run very much like a commercial sex ring.” Among the allegations are claims that “managers at the start of every shift assess the tautness of female servers’ arms, stomachs, legs and backs and assign them ‘tone grades’ that are used to determine who gets to serve the best sections of the restaurant. Those with low scores are told they are fat, and some have been threatened with termination unless they lose weight.” Additionally, the suit argues the waitstaff “must work in lingerie or bikinis during special costume weeks, and if they refuse, they don’t work.”
As a result, the treatment created an environment riddled with sexual harassment. Other employees even allegedly catcalled waitstaff and customers were allowed to “touch and say things to the female staff without consequences.” The suit states:
“Twin Peaks developed an image where, on the outside, it appears to be a place where young women happily work in revealing clothing while earning large tips. In reality, young women across America are being demeaned, abused, and exploited for the financial and sexual benefit of men.”
The suit was filed two years after another Twin Peaks location filed “a small group of former employees of an Orland Park Twin Peaks filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a required first step for pursuing discrimination claims.” Over time, several more former employees came forward to file charges with the EEOC. In December 2019, the federal agency “granted them the right to sue in court,” according to Tamara Holder, the plaintiffs’ attorney.
Last year, Twin Peaks, also known as ‘breastaurant’ to some, “had 84 locations and $335.8 million in sales last year, though its website currently lists 78 locations.” After enjoying years of booming sales, the restaurant chain has seen its sales growth slow in recent years.
When commenting on the alleged discrimination and sexual harassment, Holder said she is “in the process of filing 18 separate complaints with the American Arbitration Association on behalf of former employees of restaurants in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida who couldn’t join the federal suit because they signed arbitration agreements upon being hired by a large Twin Peaks franchisee.” She added that the recent suit accuses Twin Peaks of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the American with Disabilities Act. It is seeking unspecified damages and back pay.