A posh restaurant in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District was just hit with a lawsuit accusing one of its managers of antigay discrimination, the New York Daily News reports.
Bagatelle is a swanky French bistro known for a lively brunch scene and upscale clientele, but according to bartender Terrance McCleveland, working there is not all glitz and glam.
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In a new lawsuit, 31-year-old McCleveland is demanding $1 million after an incident that happened back in December 2015. It all started when McCleveland went directly to the owner to make a time off request instead of following protocol by asking his manager. He claims the manager “retaliated” by writing up a bogus misconduct report against him, accusing him of dressing “like a gay porn star” at work, then filed it with restaurant’s HR department.
The report, which was filed with McCleveland’s lawsuit submitted to the Manhattan Supreme Court earlier this week, said the “nature of the violation” was that McCleveland “look like a fa*got.” And under the heading “explanation,” the manager wrote, “(McCleveland) wears Barbie T-shirt behind the bar. Terrance looked like a gay porn star.”
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When McCleveland saw the report, he could hardly believe it.
“I was very shocked,” he said during a press conference this week. “They played it off as a joke. It was definitely no joke.”
To add insult to injury, the manager then posted it to the wall for everyone to read.
“He put it on the bar for everyone to see. I was embarrassed and humiliated,” McCleveland recalled.
After McCleveland reported the incident to HR, the manager was suspended for a week. But he felt “they didn’t take it as seriously as I did.” He says management never apologized for the incident, and instead told other employees to keep a close eye on McCleveland and report any missteps.
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McCleveland says he continued working at the restaurant because it paid better than most other bartending gigs. The atmosphere, however, only became more and more toxic. He is now suing for $1 million.
So far, Bagatelle has not released any comment, though the New York Daily News reports that just last month the restaurant was sued in Manhattan Federal Court after being accused of discriminating against patrons from minority groups, seating them in cramped tables out of sight from the main dining area.
UPDATE 2:30 P.M. PST: Tisha Kresler, a spokesperson for Bagatelle, sent Queerty the following statement in response to the allegations:
“We take any allegation that suggests we discriminate against our employees or our patrons very seriously and we want to assure everyone that we do not allow or condone discrimination of any kind. The staff and guests at our restaurant in the Meatpacking District reflect the melting pot that this neighborhood and New York City are known for. We don’t seat patrons based on race and our restaurant was specifically designed with an open layout with no “bad” tables in the house. We take pride in the fine service provided by our outstanding staff and for creating a destination that has remained a mainstay of the neighborhood for almost a decade. While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we intend to defend ourselves vigorously against these claims.”
I saw this report the other day. They have photos of the [email protected] segregated seating that Bagatelle was engaging in. No time for this crap or homophobic BS, especially in a diverse city like NYC, in 2017 or ever again.
If he compared McCleveland to a gay male pornstar that means he’s probably hot. Probably gets good tips. Sounds like he’s got a good case with their record on minorities.
Do gay porn stars wear Barbie T-shirts? Sounds like a turn-off to me! I’d give up on that movie pretty quick.
This is McCleveland:
@Roan: What a let down. I thought he’d be wearing a tight see through tee shirt. You can’t see nothing in that.
Sad though it is that this guy should be subjected to this (and he appears to be hetero), it is ironic that just 25-30 years ago the “meatpacking district” was essentially that during the day while at night it was sleazy gay pars and sex clubs, sex workers and public sex among the parked and double parked meat trucks. There was only one restaurant of note, Restaurant Florent, owned by a wonderful queen who would never marginalize anyone who worked for him and welcomed all to sample his great food.
Now the area is an over-gentrified mess.
I’m still trying to picture him in the Barbie t-shirt. It’s clear from other news stories about that restaurant, that its owners have created a pit of homophobia and sexism.
@Roan: He’s not even remotely good looking.
@dwes09: Actually it was still the Meatpacking district as late as 2005-6 or so. Florent, the Lure, the temporary LGBT Center, etc., all used to be over there up through the turn of the 21st century. It has been completely gentrified into a high-end stronghold these days.
I’m surprised no one in HR got suspended or fired since they were clearly complicit. The article states that the manager filed his complaint with HR. Why didn’t anyone at HR tell the manager that such language was inappropriate? Indeed, why didn’t anyone tell the manager that dressing like a f-ggot is not even an offense (since there is presumably no such definition in the employee guidelines)? The fact that such a report was allowed, putting corporate at risk for a lawsuit, shows incredibly poor judgement. As an aside, the bartender is probably lucky that the complaint was posted. I’m not clear if he would’ve known the exact wording of the complaint otherwise. HR might have just told him that he was dressing “inappropriately” without knowing the homophobia underlying the complaint.
To see the actual complaint that humiliated the bartender and alleged ra.cist seating, as well as the homophobia against two servers, see link below. If the two savers are correct, there is a pattern of anti-gay behavior.
Queerty, just go ahead and say you don’t want links posted regarding articles that you half-assed put together instead of that “comment held for moderation” shit.
@Bryguyf69: At the Atlanta Black Star dot com there is a picture of two black women sitting on the laps of two others in their group where more than enough space is available for two more chairs. That must be some delicious food to allow yourself to be humiliated like that. A picture is accompanied with the article that this half-assed news site (Queerty) won’t allow to post with your comment.
Okay,I have a better sense of the complaint now. It appears that the complaint posted on the bulletin board was a “joke” and not the one filed to HR. Queerty didn’t make that clear. In that case, HR is not derelict and complicit, as I had ordinarily posted. I base this on the image I linked above. The form was filled with stereotypes that have nothing to do with the actual restaurant. For example, it claimed that the bartender cruised Central Park. Regardless of whether it was filed with HR, it’s still hurtful.
That said, the bartender’s lawsuit is now much more difficult since he is suing the restaurant, and the manager is not listed as a defendant. The bartender now has to prove that management knew about the behavior and did nothing. That’s going to be difficult but my guess is that it’ll be settled out of court because the owners don’t want the bad publicity.
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