From Hooters to Marylou’s, Great Moments in EEOC Bureaucracy

Daniel J. Mitchell
Posted: May 28, 2012 12:01 AM

I’ve written about the high cost of red tape, and have cited crazy examples of regulation run amok.

The list could go on forever, so let’s look at a new example of regulatory stupidity.

Back during the Clinton years, the pinheads at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission tried to coerce Hooters into ending its discriminatory hiring practices. These clueless bureaucrats thought it was unfair that fat, middle-aged men weren’t properly represented on the serving staff.

In a rare victory for common sense, the EEOC eventually backed down, in large part because Hooters launched a public “get a grip” campaign to embarrass the government which included newspaper ads and billboards showing how absurd it would be to change the company’s hiring practices.

Now, as Yogi Berra would say, it’s deja vu all over again. The EEOC is agitated because a Massachusetts coffee chain apparently has hired too many attractive young women. Here’s some of what the Boston Herald reported.

South Shore coffee chain Marylou’s is singing the blues over a federal employment-discrimination investigation, crying foul that the feds are going after its long-standing practice of hiring bubbly young bombshells to peddle the shop’s trademark joe. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been quietly probing Marylou’s’ hiring practices for nearly a year, the Herald has learned, with investigators pulling reams of job applications, interviewing company brass and grilling the 29-store chain’s pink-clad clerks about their co-workers’ gender, age, race and body type, according to the company. …Katherine J. Michon, a Boston lawyer who specializes in discrimination cases, said the length and scope of the investigation indicates the feds are serious about cracking down on the company. …he company also complained about the probe to state Sen. Robert L. Hedlund, who blasted the EEOC as “a meddlesome, overblown, intrusive federal agency.” He said he plans to contact the local congressional delegation, and is dumbfounded the agency is probing the stalwart South Shore coffee shop. “Why, because they haven’t hired old overweight men who want to wear a pink T-shirt and serve coffee?” Hedlund said. “The federal government has better things to do with my tax dollars than to harass a legitimate business.”

What’s especially nauseating about this case is that nobody complained about discrimination. Instead, some moron bureaucrats got upset that the TV ads featured attractive young women. Here’s more from a follow-up story in the Herald.

She [the head of the EEOC] refused to answer general questions about the agency, which critics say has run amok by initiating investigations into businesses even if no one has complained about their hiring procedures. Marylou’s execs, for example, say the feds’ yearlong inquiry started when investigators saw the chain’s flirty TV commercials. Sandry said the groundswell of support for Marylou’s has remained strong since the Herald broke the news Wednesday of the yearlong EEOC inquiry, which company founder Marylou Sandry has called “a witch hunt.” “It’s been crazy, but everywhere I go people are cheering the girls,” Ronnie Sandry said. “Boy, people hate the government.”

I’m greatly encouraged by the last sentence in the excerpt. We should all be very upset that overpaid bureaucrats are harassing and pestering people in the productive sector of the economy. These leeches should be immediately terminated.

Even though I don’t like coffee, I wish Marylou’s had some branches in the DC area. I would find something to buy just to show my support.

P.S. In the interests of fairness, I should point out that the federal government is not the only entity to pursue idiotic regulations. California lawmakers, for instance, have considered rules to regulate babysitting. And since we’re on the topic of coffee, let’s not forget the Seattle campaign to ban scantily clad baristas. But the all-time record for strangest government regulation belongs to Japan, which actually has government rules on the application of coffee enemas.