Hooters in Queens sued over slur on receipt

A Hooters sign in Atlanta, Ga. welcomes "She's A Hooters sign in Atlanta, Ga. welcomes "She's Out Of My League" co-stars Krysten Ritter and Alice Eve. (Feb. 23, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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A Korean-American man who got a receipt identifying him with a racial slur 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 Fresh Meadows 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's lawsuit states.

"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.

"It was an isolated incident," McCabe said.

The offending word 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.

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Typically, McCabe said, it might read "blond" or "redhead."

McCabe said an internal investigation initiated by the Hooters chain national office identified 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."

The lawsuit did not specify the amount of damages Cha is seeking.

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