Hooters peepholes alleged in video

Chicago- The video showed several holes in the walls next to full-length mirrors and under clothes racks. At least one was about the size of a quarter and light showed through it.

This was the inside of the dressing room for Hooters waitresses at the restaurant’s Rosemont location, where one server claims the holes were used for peeping.

They are at the center of a civil trial under way in federal court this week.

Former Hooters server Joanna Ciesielski charges that other employees watched her and other women undress. She first realized they were there after hearing rising laughter as she undressed.

She is suing the company for millions of dollars, claiming managers ignored her pleas to repair the holes after she and others repeatedly complained. She also said she was subjected to sexual harassment by fellow employees, including kitchen workers, who made inappropriate comments about her body.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve would not yet allow the jury, made up of four men and four women, to see the May 2001 video. But Ciesielski’s attorney, John DeRose, said he expects to show it later in the week.

Defense attorneys, who portray Ciesielski as interested in money from the lawsuit, say she never complained about harassment through various means available to her.

Three current and former Hooters assistant managers testified Tuesday they knew of holes in the walls of the women’s dressing room but they were told of them only “in passing.” They each said they never knew of any problems with the holes — just that they existed. They said they learned of Ciesielski’s issues only after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

One assistant manager, James Rabbit, said Ciesielski never came to him to complain that she felt she was being watched while undressing. Had she, he said he would have addressed the problem.

“The hole came about, we fixed it, we moved on,” Rabbit said. “I didn’t think it was such a big deal.”

Another assistant manager, Clint Unrue, said he saw a hole that was the circumference of a pencil.

Another assistant manager, Arlen Chung, also said he knew of the holes only in passing. He did acknowledge signing a maintenance bill for a Hooters Restaurant in Rosemont, which listed two completed tasks: “Repaired exit signs and patched peep holes in changing room.”

Ciesielski claims a lack of supervision caused holes to reappear once they were filled in. Ciesielski worked at Hooters for three years and as a nanny while she studied broadcast journalism at Columbia College.

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