A waiter in a New York City’s pan-Asian restaurant and club Buddakan claims he was fired for being HIV-positive, according to The Post.
Now, 27-year old Jack Mountford is suing.
The Chelsea-based restaurant is own by restaurateur Stephen Starr, and according to the suit, new management became incredibly hostile with Mountford upon hearing of his HIV status.
Mountford was diagnosed in 2010, and when he started working at the restaurant in 2013 he notified the general manager, who was more than accommodating, allowing him to fly home whenever he needed to meet with doctors. But all that changed in 2015 when the restaurant received a scathing review, prompting a shift in management, said The Post.
In June 2016, a new general manager named Brandon Wergeles came into the picture and started to make immediate changes, including with Mountford, who had just returned from a week long vacation.
After Mountford came back to work, he was told by coworkers that Wergeles was discussing his status with other managers. Not long after that, the new manager approached him with a story about him being a “liability” because a patron said his credit card was charged twice on a $62 bill.
When Mountford asked Wergeles if he was talking about his status, he allegedly responded with, “Don’t you think I should be made aware of a health condition that could be detrimental to your job performance?”
After getting fired, he was escorted out of the restaurant — but not before Wergeles offered to write him a glowing recommendation letter.
“It’s Chelsea and the Meatpacking District,” Mountford said to The Post. “I never expected to be in a position where a piece of my life that is so personal and unrelated to my job performance was thrown in my face.”
His lawyers are seeking unspecified damages from Starr's restaurant group.
In an email statement to Eater, Starr’s general counsel Melissa MacLeod said they plan to defend the lawsuit in court.
"We are confident we will be vindicated in court proceedings," MacLeod said. "Plaintiff previously made this complaint to the EEOC and the EEOC dismissed the action because it was unable to conclude that the information established a violation of the law. We are very sensitive to employee's rights under the law and are diligent in ensuring that we comply with those obligations."