WASHINGTON — Don't look for Hooters guys any time soon.
After four years, a federal agency has quietly ended its investigation of the Hooters restaurant chain for refusing to hire waiters to work alongside its scantily clad waitresses.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission told Rep. Harris Fawell (R-Ill.) recently that it will not intervene in a sex discrimination lawsuit that sought to force Hooters to hire men as waiters.
"Denying any American a job simply because of his or her sex is a serious issue which should be taken seriously," wrote EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas. "The particular factual issues raised by Hooters do not transform this into a frivolous case or a subject for locker-room humor."
But, he added, since a private class-action lawsuit has been filed, "it is wiser for the EEOC to devote its scarce litigation resources to other cases."
Casellas' letter was dated March 6. The agency's confidentiality rules prohibit it from discussing its investigations publicly but it can give information to members of Congress.
A Hooters official said the EEOC has not informed the chain directly.
"What we've learned . . . is the EEOC won't be pursuing an investigation," Ed Droste, a founder of the 170-unit restaurant chain, said.
Fawell, chairman of a House subcommittee on employment, had questioned the investigation, given the agency's limited financial resources and heavy caseload.
Hooters fought to continue hiring only waitresses, who wear skimpy orange shorts and tight white T-shirts or tank tops.
The EEOC had said Hooters should hire men to work with the women, a recommendation the company said it would ignore.