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NY pizzeria settles transgender harassment lawsuit


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A pizzeria in the state of New York has agreed to pay $25,000 and provide other relief to settle a sex-based harassment lawsuit filed by the EEOC.

The agency charged that a transgender cook at T.C. Wheelers Bar & Pizzeria in Tonawanda, New York, was subjected to a hostile work environment based on gender identity.

According to the lawsuit, the owners and staff of the restaurant verbally harassed Quinn Gambino, a transgender man, by making crude and derogatory references to his transgender status, including telling him that he “wasn’t a real man,” and asking invasive questions about his transition.

Furthermore, the EEOC alleged that the owners or the pizzeria repeatedly and intentionally misgendered Gambino by using female pronouns and failed to correct the behavior of employees and customers who did the same. The employee reported the harassment to his manager on several occasions, but the behavior continued, and the suit claimed that the employee was compelled to resign.

The EEOC filed suit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

Under a three-year decree that settles the matter, T.C. Wheelers agreed to pay Gambino $25,000 in back pay and compensatory damages. The decree also provides that T.C. Wheelers will institute and enforce equal employment opportunity policies that include a strong and clear commitment to prevent unlawful sex discrimination and harassment, including discrimination and harassment toward transgender persons.

To ensure compliance, T.C. Wheelers has hired an independent human resources monitor to supervise and investigate all employee complaints.

All owners, managers, and employees of the defendant will be required to complete training on federal anti-discrimination employment laws, with a special emphasis on issues relating to gender identity and expression.

T.C. Wheelers, through its independent human resource monitor, will provide annual reports to the EEOC regarding its implementation of the decree, and the EEOC will retain the right to inspect the company’s business records and premises to ensure compliance.