- Staff at a New York pizzeria, including its owners, repeatedly harassed a transgender cook, the EEOC claimed.
- Some workers equated being transgender to pedophilia, the EEOC said.
- The restaurant is paying the former cook $25,000 to settle the lawsuit.
A restaurant in New York is paying $25,000 to settle a sex-based harassment lawsuit after staff repeatedly harassed and misgendered a transgender cook and asked about his genitalia, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said.
The owners and staff at TC Wheelers Bar & Pizzeria in Tonawanda, near Buffalo, verbally harassed Quinn Gambino by making “crude and derogatory references to his transgender status,” the EEOC said in a press release.
One of the owners asked “invasive” questions about Gambino’s transition and genitalia, the EEOC wrote in a lawsuit. The same co-owner also told Gambino that he “wasn’t a real man” and said that he didn’t approve of Gambino being transgender, the EEOC’s press release said it.
Some workers at the restaurant even equated being transgender to pedophilia, the EEOC claimed in the lawsuit.
The owners also “repeatedly and intentionally” misgendered Gambino by using female pronouns and didn’t correct staff and customers when they did the same during his nearly four months of employment at the restaurant in 2021, the EEOC said.
“Management both participated in this harassment and tolerated it by others,” the EEOC wrote in the lawsuit.
Gambino ultimately was “compelled to resign” because of the “incessant harassment,” the EEOC said. He had reported the behavior to his manager multiple times, per the EEOC, which added that the restaurant had no formal process for staff to report workplace harassment.
The EEOC filed a lawsuit against the restaurant in the US District Court for the Western District of New York in March 2023 after being unable to reach a pre-litigation settlement.
The lawsuit accused TC Wheelers of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.
The restaurant has denied Gambino’s allegations.
Under the settlement, TC Wheelers will pay Gambino about $3,500 in back pay and $21,500 in compensatory damages. The restaurant also agreed to hire an independent human resources consultant to investigate employee complaints and mandate training for all staff on antidiscrimination employment laws.
The three-year decree was signed off by the judge on January 19.
Business Insider has contacted TC Wheelers for comment.