Former and current employees at the KTCHN restaurant and XL Nightclub are suing the Out NYC Hoteliers Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass. According to the suit, they are claiming discrimination and withheld pay.
The Advocate reports:
The allegations by James Stress, Paul Shreve, Donald Shorter, and Jonathan Taylor are twofold. All four employees named in the suit claim KTCHN and XL failed to pay for overime work and withheld part of their tips, resulting in violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act as well as New York City and state law. Shorter and Stress also allege discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — by establishments that are owned by and cater to LGBT people.Lord, this looks like it only going to get worse for these two bumbling fools.
According to the suit, a copy of which was obtained by The Advocate, plaintiffs Shorter and Stress were subjected “to a hostile work environment” and “disparate treatment” that led “to their constructive discharge.” Shorter and Stress, who worked as servers at KTCHN, claim they were the only two “men working at KTCHN who outwardly presented as feminine at work and who did not adhere to masculine stereotypes.” The suit also notes that Shorter and Stress were “openly homosexual.” The suit was filed in May in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; the law firm of Borrelli and Associates is representing the plaintiffs.
The discrimination allegedly began when a KTCHN manager, Anton Washington, implemented a new policy on attire and grooming. This policy, a copy of which was made available to The Advocate, was introduced last December, attached to employees’ checks.
“Attire/Grooming — Please come to work properly dressed and be prepared to start your shift when you clock in. If you do not have proper attire i.e. black uniform shirt or black apron, they can be purchased in the office, BUT do not allow this to become a trend. Also, please keep excessive makeup and nail polish to a minimum gentlemen. The only acceptable time for gentlemen to wear makeup or nail polish will be for Sunday Brunch during Haus of Mimosa.”
This policy was not extended to women, according to the suit. The suit alleges the workplace attire policy is “vile and explicitly unlawful,” claiming it specifically targeted Shorter and Stress.
When Shorter “objected to this hateful policy, Defendants reprimanded and humiliated him and refused to alter the policy or make an exception,” the suit states. Working under these conditions caused Shorter and Stress to suffer “severe mental anguish and emotional distress, including, but not limited to, depression, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, loss of self-esteem and self-confidence, and emotional pain and suffering,” according to the complaint.