As a general rule, it's probably not a good idea for most businesses to sponsor employee bikini contests. Hooters, the restaurant chain, no doubt thought it was an exception to that rule. But it might want to reconsider that thinking in light of a ruling by a National Labor Relations Board judge.

A Hooters franchise located in Ontario, California, found itself the subject of an NLRB inquiry after it fired a waitress who had taken exception to a company bikini contest. The firing led to an examination of the Hooters employee handbook, and that led to more serious sanctions than overturning the decision of the bikini contest jury.

According to several sources, including the Inland Empire newspaper The Press Enterprise, here's what happened: Hooters Ontario waitress Alexis Hanson  objected to the choice of a winner in the 2012 bikini contest, one Pamela Jean Noble. Hanson claimed the gig was rigged because Noble had close friends on the jury who chose her. "Witnesses testified about obscenity-laced tirades that evening," reported the Press Enterprise.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.