A former Chilli's server claims she wasn't promoted because she didn't dress in 'gender appropriate' clothes

ACLUMeagan Hunter
  • Meagan Hunter, 35, claims she was passed up for promotions at a Chilli’s Bar & Grill in Phoenix, Arizona, because she didn’t dress in “gender appropriate” clothes.
  • She applied for positions as bartender and manager after working at the restaurant for two years.
  • Hunter claimed that after wearing slacks and a button-down shirt, a manager said she would have to dress more “gender appropriate” if she wanted the job.

A former Chilli’s Bar & Grill server claims she was turned down for promotions to bartender and manager because she didn’t dress in “gender appropriate” clothes.

Meagan Hunter, 35, was a server at a Chilli’s in Phoenix, Arizona, for two years before she decided to apply for two possible promotions – to bartender or manager – in May 2018, according to Yahoo Lifestyle.

When she interviewed for the manager role in June 2018, Hunter wore a buttoned-down shirt and slacks, which is the typical uniform for company managers.

After the interview, Hunter claimed her general manager was concerned about her outfit.

“He told me the district operator said my clothes were baggy and I was inappropriately dressed for an interview,” Hunter told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Seven weeks later, Hunter was again warned about her clothing, and said her boss wanted her to dress “gender appropriate,” if they were going to give her the job, the former server told the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona.

“I said, “Does that mean I should have my breasts hanging out to succeed in your company?’ and he backtracked and said, ‘No, not in those words,'” Hunter told Yahoo Lifestyle.

Hunter said one manager wore a chef-style coat, and when she asked why she couldn’t do the same, she was told: “That’s for boys.”

Hunter said she quit the next day.

She later learned she was passed up for the bartending position because the manager “didn’t want a gay girl behind the bar,” according to the ACLU.

The ACLU and Hunter filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and are waiting to hear the results of an investigation.

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For now Hunter is waiting tables at a cafe, but said she had to take a payout and it has been a “difficult time.”

A Chilli’s spokesperson told Yahoo Lifestyle that it encourages team members to “come as they are because our restaurants are a place where they can be themselves.”

The company denied being discriminatory and said it is committed to its staff members from “all walks of life.”

“Meagan Hunter was not denied a promotion at Chilli’s, but instead she was identified as a high potential Team Member and offered the opportunity to be promoted into our Certified Shift Leader program to take the next step on her career journey,” the spokesperson said. “Feedback was given to her about our manager dress code guidelines, which apply to all managers regardless of gender identification or sexuality, but absolutely no mention was made of any need to conform to gender-specific clothing.”

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