Metro Weekly

Virginia restaurant ordered to pay gay employee $20,000 after homophobic discrimination

El Tio Tex-Mex Grill settled a lawsuit alleging that employees subjected a gay server to homophobic harassment

Photo: Facebook

A Virginia restaurant will pay $40,000 to settle a lawsuit over claims its employees subjected a gay server to homophobic harassment and discrimination.

Last week, a federal judge approved a settlement between El Tio Tex-Mex Grill in Gainesville, VA, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Associated Press reports.

It stems from a 2018 lawsuit filed by the server, alleging that he was repeatedly subjected to homophobic slurs and taunts about his sexuality from other employees at the restaurant.

The settlement will be split between the server and his heterosexual friend, a busser at the restaurant who claimed he was also subjected to harassment due to their friendship.

The deal bars El Tio from condoning or engaging in harassment of employees based on their sexual orientation.

Virginia currently lacks comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people, though government employees are protected from discrimination via an executive order issued in 2014 by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

EEOC regional attorney Debra Lawrence praised the settlement, saying that the EEOC is “committed to ensuring that no employee or applicant is discriminated against or harassed based on sexual orientation.”

“We are gratified that El Tio worked with the EEOC to reach an amicable resolution of this lawsuit,” she said, the National Law Review reports. “The consent decree includes significant equitable relief that will benefit all company employees.”

Mindy Weinstein, acting director of the Washington Field Office, said, “We commend these employees who bravely stood up for what is right and changed this workplace for the better as a result.”

El Tio currently operates in Virginia and D.C., with restaurants in Falls Church, Gainesville, Great Falls, and McLean, and a fifth on 14th Street NW in the District.

Read more:

Modesto denies permit for anti-LGBTQ ‘Straight Pride’ event

Federal judge rules Gloucester County’s restroom policy violated Gavin Grimm’s civil rights

New Jersey mayor calls teaching LGBTQ history in schools “absurdity”

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!

Shelf Wood
Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

Leave a Comment:

Like What You're Reading?

Get Metro Weekly's Daily Email