Asian customers labeled “Chinx” on Queens Hooters receipt files federal lawsuit
Employee admitted to the misdeed and resigned, Hooters lawyer says
By John Marzulli / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
A Hooters hostess described an Asian couple as “Chinx” on their food receipt — then copped to the slur and quit, a lawyer for the burgers-and-boobs restaurant disclosed Tuesday.
The shocking incident occurred July 1 at the Hooters in Fresh Meadows, Queens, when Kisuk Cha and his girlfriend placed a takeout order for buffalo shrimp and chicken wings — and got an extra helping of racism, according to Cha’s lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Cha suspected something was up because the food server was “gawking” at them and “giggling” after looking at the computer monitor. After paying the $21.75 tab, he examined the two receipts and spotted the slur “Chinx” on both.
Owners of the Hooters franchise hired lawyer Edward McCabe to investigate. The food server whose name appears on the receipt was cleared after a hostess stepped forward and admitted that she had penned the ethnic slur, McCabe said.
“She was very apologetic,” McCabe said. “She said she didn’t realize the gravity of it and how offensive it was.
“It was shocking to us and we are absolutely sympathetic to (Cha and his girlfriend),” McCabe added.
Restaurant receipts going back three months were reviewed as part of the investigation and no similarly disparaging identifiers were found, he said.
McCabe said employees are permitted to refer to customers by an article of clothing or hair color to help workers remember who placed an order — but never by their race.
McCabe did not identify the bigoted hostess, but noted that she was not one of the Hooters’ employees who wear famously skimpy, bosom-baring uniforms.
Cha, a 25-year-old Korean-American man who lives in Pennsylvania, contends in the complaint that he has suffered emotional anguish based on the “Chinx” label.
“He is haunted by the ridiculing giggles and stares of his persecutor,” the complaint states. “He does not feel welcome at Hooters and indeed questions whether he is welcomed at any non-Korean establishments.”
His girlfriend is not a plaintiff in the suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages.
The general counsel for Hooters of America wrote a letter to Cha’s lawyer Daniel Baek pointing out that the Queens restaurant is an independently licensed franchise.
“Therefore please contact the franchisee to resolve this dispute,” Hooters lawyer Claudia Levitas advised, according to a letter that was attached to the lawsuit.
Baek said this case is part of an unsettling pattern.
In January, a Papa John’s Pizza outlet in upper Manhattan was forced to apologize to an Asian customer who was described as “lady chinky eyes” on her food order.
“There are a rash of cases across the country where customers were identified on their credit card and store receipts by racial slurs,” Baek said. “Unfortunately, customers of color must be vigilant to double check their receipts to see what’s being said about them.”