Waitress won toy Yoda, sued--any results yet?

I remember reading about a sales promotion at a restaurant chain (Hooters?) where the staff thought they were competing for a Toyota. The gal who won was awarded a toy Yoda, and was upset (presumably the prize was communicated orally, not in writing). She was going to sue the company. I haven’t heard any updates. Was this issue resolved?

…the case drags on.

She filed - it’s in progress.

…again it was Google to the rescue


Updated April 2002!


Thanks, Philster.

I’m disappointed that you would link to a content-stealer like About.com. The content is actually at

You’re kidding, right? Oh, god forbid someone should post something useful $ quickly without somebody jumping in to piss on it for grammar or any number of obscure reasons.

Now you see, for a proper April Fool’s joke, it has to start AND end on April 1. I have to wonder if he announced the winner at the end of the day if it might have been received differently. As it was, the contest went for a month! That’s a lot of work for a joke. The manager’s an idiot. I sure wouldn’t want to bust my hump for a month for a Toy Yoda, sure I’d be pissed.

On the other hand, my first question would have been “what model?” which would have immediately ended the joke (unless he came up with a different lie). Apparently waitresses at Hooter’s aren’t the most apt to request details.

Wouldn’t it just have been cheaper for Hooters to just buy the car for the waitress rather than pay the lawyers all that money?

And that’s just what all the @#$%*ing lawyers what us to think!

Not to rant, but if this guy only orally announced the contest, then as far as I’m concerned the deal isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. I don’t believe in screwing over employees, but it doesn’t sound to me like the guy was trying to do that. I believe 100% that he intended it to be a joke, a good one at that.
How many times did she serve drinks called a “screaming orgasm” or “blow job”? Get it? It’s a play on words. An unwritten, oral statement. A joke at that.
That chick should get NOTHING, except punished for being greedy and not having a sense of humor!

Well if you were “that chick” and you busted your ass for a month at your shitty, degrading job under the impression that it could earn you a car, I don’t think that you’d find it that funny either.

You think that the waitress is greedy? What about the manager who made up a bogus contest to get his waitresses to work their asses off for a month at the cost of a Yoda doll?

Something similar in England:

Car hoax backfires for radio station

I think it was a joke, but a joke that he’ll only get to pull once in his life. After this everyone will want to see something in writing.

Look, bark at me all you want, my mind can’t be changed, and this is GQ anyway, not IMHO. But the fact is, as I understand it, the contest was only made orally. Had he printed something up that said “Toyota” (different from Toy yoda, by the way) then I would agree she has a case. But nothing was in writing, and I believe this guy ment it as a joke.

It’s kind of like asking someone if they want a quarter, then tearing a piece of paper into 4 pieces and giving them one piece. It’s a joke, an ORAL statement, not written. Roll your eyes, have a laugh, realize you’ve been the victim of a practical joke, and then get back to work.

Yeah, it’s a funny joke when you’re six years old. But in this case the guy clearly gave the impression that he was giving a prise of good value in exchange for performance. Suppose you’re at a staff meeting and the vice president of your department says (or everyone believes he says), “The highest performer gets a thousand dollars!” Everyone busts his butt and the department increases its revenue by x percent, and you win the prize. At the ceremony he gives you a thousand doll hairs. Ha ha. Great joke, eh? Except that the V.P. gave everyone the impression, and he intended everyone to believe, that there would be a cash bonus.

There’s a difference between (my dad pulled this one on me) saying, “I’ll give you a nickle for every quarter you can stand on it’s edge,” and then taking the quarters and returning nickles, and making people believe that they will get something of value in exchange for their work. The bar owner may have intended it to be a joke, but there’s a point where a joke becomes fraud.

If you find a way to make people work harder within the scope of their job, you’ve done nothing wrong.

If these folks started climbing ladders to polish the store sign, ans started doing things voluntarily that were outside the scope of their jobs - like dangerous stuff - then there would be a case.

It is quite clear that the manager intended to deceive his employees into thinking that the prize was a car

It’s a bunch of crap, a cruel, stupid joke at the expense of your staff. He’s a lousy manager, and his restaurant deserves to lose this lawsuit.

My manager told me recently that I would be getting a “raise” this May. Is it required that I ask her “Will this raise be an addition of dollars to my salary, or a pair of elevator shoes?” What kind of world is it when you need to clarify everything everybody around you says?

And, on preview: this manager has absolutely done something wrong. No staff member of his will EVER believe anything that comes out of his mouth again. He has lost the trust of his workers. You don’t motivate people to work harder by pretending that there will be a reward at the end.

pkbites, allow me to introduce you to the concept of fraud:
[ul][li]a misrepresentation or concealment (“I’m not going to tell you it’s only a stupid toy, not a car.”)[/li][li]with reference to some fact material to a transaction (“Work your ass off slinging beer for a month.”)[/li][li]that is made with knowledge of its falsity or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity and with the intent to deceive another ("Hee hee! I’ll take her out to the parking lot for her toy Yoda. That’ll make it even more funny when she finds out its not a car!")[/li][li]and that is reasonably relied on by the other (“I worked my ass off for a month slinging beer because of that promise!”)[/li][li]who is injured thereby ("Where’s my damn car?)[/li][/ul]You might also want to hit the legal dictionary at findlaw and look up punitive damages.

minty green - then all jokes are legal fraud? Ain’t that simple.

The time frame involved is the biggest issue - not the prank itself.

No, PK, IMHO it’s the fact that the manager took something of value (the waitress’s extra time and effort) and did not give her something of comparable value.

Had he said “At the end of the month, a random drawing will be held to see who gets the toyyoda” I would be able to see his side, as he wouldn’t have taken anything.

But to take her increased effort, extra work, etc and not compensate her for that extra work is unexcusable.


My father was once promised, by the president of his company, a “company car” if he increased collections by a certain amount. He met and exceeded the goal and was given a toy automobile, with a letter stating that ownership of the toy remained with the company, thus making it a “company car.” The sales manager of the company in question was duped by the same promise, as was the production manager. The three of them laughed it off, but it marked the end of whatever trust they had placed in the president. It also marked the end of the extra effort required by them to meet the goals set by the president. I still think that all three of them should have sued–I believe they had a real case.

I also believe the waitress in question has a real case, and that the manager should be made to pay for the car out of his own pocket.

No, Phil, all jokes are not fraud. Few jokes injure their intended targets in any compensable way. Many jokes are not reasonably relied upon, and very few jokes are perpetrated with reference to a material fact to a transaction. Without all of those requirements, plus the others that I listed, a joke is not actionable fraud.

For this particular joke, there is a compelling case that fraud occurred. I have defended several fraud claims that I think were specious at best. But as a lawyer, I would love to have this woman for a client. Hooters is going to get shot down for this one.