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.
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.”
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.
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.”