27-year-old Sandra Lupo alleges she was pushed out of her job after brain surgery left her with buzz cut hair and a healing scar that made it too painful to wear a wig.
Lupo had worked as a waitress at a St. Peters, Mo., Hooters since April 2005 but took a leave from her job for a few weeks last summer to have a cranial mass removed.
Lupo had the support of her manager, who visited her in the hospital and suggested when she was ready to return to work that she wear a "chemo cap" or jewelry items "to distract from her lack of hair and the visibility of her cranial scar," court documents said.
On July 16, 2012, doctors gave Lupo clearance to go back to work at Hooters, where she worked to put herself through nursing school.
Shortly before she returned to work, Lupo and her immediate manager met with the Hooters regional manager who said Lupo would be required to wear a wig while at work, according to court documents.
Lupo told him "she did not have a wig and that she could not afford a wig, as they range in cost between several hundred and several thousands of dollars," according to the lawsuit, adding that the regional manager did not offer to pay for the wig.
After her manager approached her again regarding a wig, Lupo said she borrowed one and tried to wear it at work. But it "caused extreme stress to her body because of the surgery and the healing wound," according to court records.
Lupo said her manager then reduced her hours to the point where she was making so little income that she was forced to quit, which made her ineligible for unemployment benefits.
"[Lupo's] physical injury was an actual disability from her surgery which limited the major life activity of working when such work required a wig to be worn," court documents said.
In a complaint filed with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, Lupo said she never believed her customers were ever "offended" by her appearance at the chain, which is known for its hot wings and servers clad in tight white tank tops and orange hot pants.
"My customers were not offended, and were in fact curious about the obvious scar from my surgery," she wrote in the complaint.
The lawsuit was moved from St. Charles County Circuit Court to U.S. District Court in St. Louis last week at the request of Georgia-based Hooters.
"Hooters of America believes the lawsuit is without foundation, denies the accusations and has filed a motion that the lawsuit be dismissed," a spokesman wrote in an email to ABCNews.com.
Lupo, whose attorney said Lupo now works as a trauma nurse, was not immediately available for comment.
The Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals who have a disability. This includes having a physical or mental impairment, a history of having an impairment or the perception of having one.
Marcia McCormick, an associate professor of law at St. Louis University, said Lupo's surgery to remove a brain mass qualifies as a disability, but that Hooters could argue that her appearance was a bona fide qualification for her job.
"In the disability context, if Hooters is to say she's not as attractive now without this wig, if they're selling her attractiveness that might be a real function of her job and mean she isn't qualified by the Americans With Disabilities Act," McCormick said.
"Most companies can't say s something like this, but Hooters sells this experience," she said.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A spokesman for the Illinois National Guard and Air National Guard says more than 1,300 of its civilian employees will be taking unpaid furloughs as part of the automatic federal spending cuts that kicked in last month.
Capt. Dutch Grove tells the Belleville News-Democrat workers will be taking 14 days of furloughs through the end of this fiscal year. Those workers include 230 at Scott Air Force Base in southwestern Illinois.
He says those furloughs are set to start in mid-June, but that details on how that will play out remains unclear.
The Scott base employs almost 5,600 civilian workers. It is located near Mascoutah. Base officials say those exempted from the furloughs include firefighters and others who hold jobs are considered essential for base safety and security.
The city of Ellisville is without a mayor. That's because the city council voted 5-to-1 to impeach Adam Paul Monday evening.
Mayor Paul and his attorney Chet Pleban left before the final vote. They have maintained for weeks that the impeachment hearings and deliberation were just for show -- that the council's decision was a foregone conclusion based on Paul's opposition to using tax incentives to build a new Walmart.
But former mayor, Councilman Matt Pirrello denies that and tells McGraw in the Morning here on the Big 550 although he's not a fan of tax increment financing--he would still vote in favor of the Walmart TIF.
Matt Pirrello says, "As a responsible leader for my community, I cannot sit back and let my municipality go broke standing on principle."
Before taking the impeachment vote, the council found Paul guilty on six charges of violating the city's charter.
Paul says he'll ask a St. Louis County judge to set aside the impeachment until the newly elected city council takes office April 17th so that the new council can make the decision.
A Waterloo man is critically injured after falling about 50 feet as he reportedly fled from a crash.
The single-car accident happened around 8:30 Monday evening along Interstate 255 just west of Illinois Route 3.
Illinois State Police have identified the driver as 21 year old Thomas Falk.
Witnesses told police that Falk appeared to have a head injury when he got out of his car. Police say Falk argued with someone who had reported the crash to police, then jumped over a guardrail and fell to the railroad tracks below.
Falk was taken to St. Louis University Hospital by Arch helicopter. His condition is reported to be very critical.
Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel is ruling out a run for governor in 2016.
Zweifel, a Democrat, is prohibited by term limits from seeking a third term as treasurer.
He had been mentioned along with Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster as a potential successor to Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.
But Zweifel campaign manager Mike Pridmore said Monday that the state treasurer will not run for governor in 2016 because he want's to spend more time with his family.
Firefighters remain on the scene of a smokey fire that's destroyed a metro-east salvage yard. Cahokia fire officials say the blaze broke out about 2:30 Monday afternoon at Marty's Salvage Yard in the 2000 block of Camp Jackson Road.
Burning tires and auto parts created a huge column of black smoke that could be seen for miles. The thick smoke prompted authorities to bring in HazMat crews.
Firefighters could remain at the scene all night as they deal with hot spots.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.
Cahokia Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Robbins says there were two minor injuries -- a salvage yard worker and a firefighter who suffered smoke inhalation.
The work to replace two miles of water pipeline along Manchester Road in Ballwin kicks off Monday night.
Starting every night at 8:30, crews will dig up water mains between Henry Avenue and Old Ballwin Road. KSDK reports the pipes are between 70 and 100 years old. Crews will be working from 8:30 pm to 6am to minimize the impact on traffic, but the inside westbound lane will be occasionally closed.
Work should be done before MoDOT plans to re-pave Manchester in 2014.
CHICAGO (AP) - Gov. Pat Quinn says he's confident same-sex marriage will become law in Illinois.
Quinn told reporters in Chicago on Monday that supporters are "very close" to the votes needed in the state House to pass legislation that grants same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.
The Illinois Senate already approved it. But getting the 60 votes needed in the House is proving harder. Quinn didn't suggest a current vote count, but he said "we're going to get it done."
The Chicago Democrat says he's reached out personally to ask legislators to support the measure.
If the bill does become law, it would make Illinois the 10th state to allow same-sex marriage. The state approved civil unions in 2011.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - When a gunman killed 26 children and staff at a Connecticut grade school, proposals to let teachers carry hidden guns into the classroom soon proliferated in many Republican-led states.
But less than four months later, the quest to put guns in schools has stalled in many traditionally gun-friendly states after encountering opposition from educators, reluctance from some governors and ambivalence from legislative leaders more focused on economic initiatives.
So far, South Dakota is the only state to respond with a new law allowing school personnel to carry guns into elementary and high schools. A similar proposal is poised for passage in Kansas. And Arkansas has enacted a new law allowing colleges to let staff with concealed gun permits bring their weapons on campus.
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) - A judge in southwestern Illinois is considering an AIDS service organization's challenge of a city's decision to bar the group from running a needle-exchange program because of a zoning issue.
The Belleville News-Democrat reports that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida took the matter under advisement after a hearing Monday. The judge will issue a written ruling.
The city sued in February, believing Bethany Place's needle-exchange program violates the type of operations allowed for that site under the city's zoning codes.
Bethany Place responded last month, arguing the city waited too long to complain.
The organization calls the city's move unfair and prejudicial to clients served by the program.