FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO WAITRESS

By Erica Russo

 
  After 20 years as a pharmacist, head brewer Barbara Groom traded pills for barley and hops.

With her partner Wendy Pound, she renovated a Victorian meeting hall into one of the Northcoast's finest brewpubs, the Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe in Eureka, California.

Their brewery, one of few owned by women shipped 5,000 barrels last year. Now in its 10th year, Lost Coast Brewery boasts 16 beers including its permnently popular Downtown Brown, a smooth full-bodied nut brown ale, the slightly citrus Great White, a malty 8 Ball stout, Alley Cat Amber and Pale Ale.

Lost Coast Beers are available in Washington, Oregon, California and New Mexico. Or join Barb for a brew at the Lost Coast...
   
In upscale European eateries along the East Coast, waiting tables can be a lucrative position. So lucrative, in fact, that in some restaurants women are barred from doing it. Bowing to the bizarre but firmly held belief that having one's order taken by a man is somehow more dignified, many of the finest restaurants continue to employ a male-only waitstaff, despite hiring women in other positions.

The ACLU, the EEOC, and several women scorned have filed discrimination suits in the past against various restaurants, with mixed results. The latest such lawsuit is being filed by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose suit against the Cipriani family restaurateurs quotes one of their managers as saying, "We don't have any girls in any of our places."

To be fair, he must have meant, "We don't have any girls to wait tables," since he allegedly then suggested that the women apply for the prestigious role of hat-check girls, or even cashiers.

The precedent in such cases is unclear. A series of suits filed by the EEOC in the early '90's had mixed results: in one, for example, the restaurant won when it demonstrated that few qualified female servers had applied. Another--Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach--lost, and was ordered to pay $150,000 in lost wages to four female applicants. The federal judge noted that the argument that male waiters are classier was "at best, a quaint anachronism."

Joe's, which is appealing the decision, is owned by a mother-daughter team.





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