A transgender male who previously worked as a shift manager at Sweetgreen has filed a lawsuit against the restaurant chain, claiming his superiors discriminated against him on the basis of gender and failed to address sexual harassment he experienced at the hands of a co-worker.
In the lawsuit, filed Oct. 9 in New York State Supreme Court, Tiamini Chirse, who worked at a franchise in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood from 2016 to 2019, alleges that he was sexually harassed by a co-worker who showed him “pornographic pictures” and told other employees that they were dating, even referring to Chirse as “her property.”
Chirse claims he complained to his supervisor, Terry Armfield, via email about the harassment by his co-worker — who is not identified in the lawsuit — but no action was taken to stop the behavior.
Chirse also claims that Armfield refused to use male pronouns to refer to him, instead referring to Chirse as “she” or “her.”
While Chirse would correct Armfield about using proper pronouns, he claims the behavior never changed. Chirse complained about his treatment to his area leader, as well as the corporate office, and even requested several transfers to other area restaurants, which were rejected.
In retaliation, Chirse alleges that Armfield reduced his work hours, and the atmosphere at the store became so bad that he was forced to resign in January 2019. He claims the ordeal made him feel “extremely humiliated, degraded, victimized, embarrassed and emotionally distressed.”
In addition to the emotional damage he claims to have suffered, Chirse claims that his supervisors violated state and city laws prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, as well as sexual harassment and retaliation.
He is seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages for the income he lost when he was forced to quit, as well as legal fees associated with bringing the lawsuit.
Lawyers for Chirse were not immediately available for comment. A spokesperson for Sweetgreen was also not available for comment as of press time.
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