Several employees at Margarita's Restaurant, the long-time West Side cantina, say they were fired over fears that their sexuality and the restaurant's diverse clientele were driving away customers. And we have audio that the employees say proves their case.
The employees, most of them gay, have filed complaints with the city, the state and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that a Margarita's owner, David Quirarte, discriminated against gay workers and forced the employees to discriminate against minority customers. Several employees say they plan to sue the restaurant.
Quirarte spoke with Fat City this morning. His response: "This is all bullshit."
In a complaint filed earlier this month with the Kansas City Human Relations Department, Monica Abarca claims that she was "subjected to discriminatory comments" by Quirarte, the co-owner of the four area Margarita's restaurants. He called gays "sillies and fudge packers," she claims, ordered employees "not to have a black or gay person behind the bar" and told Abarca not to hire any more gay employees.
This isn't just a family issue," says Monica Abarca. "It's a gay thing."
Quirarte denies the allegations. "This situation has nothing to do with discrimination," he says. "It's a family issue -- they were all in cahoots together. "
"I have no problems with gay employees," he goes on. "I've had gay employees for years, and some of my best friends are gay. This case is all about money. I knew my partner's daughter was gay when I hired her, and she was still gay when I fired her. That wasn't the issue at all. Believe me, I'll be filing some charges, too."
A successful gay restaurateur in Kansas City, who requested anonymity, worked for Quirarte during the early years of the original Margarita's and insists that he never experienced a moment of homophobia during the six years he worked as a server in the restaurant.
"There were four gay employees at that time," the restaurateur says, "and we had, like, sixteen tables in the whole dining room in those days. David Quirarte wasn't a bit homophobic, he was a great employer and a friend. I know some of the dynamics of the current situation and I'm sure it's a personality conflict, not a sexuality conflict."
But in addition to Monica Abarca, at least three other gay employees -- non-family members -- were terminated on December 24. According to documents that were provided by the restaurant, management was going in a "different direction."
"I asked David Quirarte what that meant," says Jaime Oropeza, a six-year veteran server who was fired from the downtown Margarita's. "What kind of new direction was he talking about? But he just kept repeating that the restaurant was going in a new direction, and I was being terminated."
Megan Miller, one of the fired gay employees, says she believes she was fired because of her sexual orientation. But her complaint, filed with the EEOC, accuses the restaurant of gender discrimination. In it, she claims that she was ordered to train the son of co-owner Larry Gromer as her own replacement.
"I was told that I was a woman," Miller's complaint alleges, "and I could not perform the same physical functions (as a) man." She also claims that Miller wound up doing much of the son's work for him "because he had (personal) plans that did not always allow him to be available for training."
Another employee, Jason Chadwick, was dismissed on December 8, 2010, along with his wife, Tanya Abarca-Chadwick. In a complaint filed with the EEOC, he claims that he was ordered "not to promote any people who were gay, Mexican or black unless it was in the kitchen." He refused, he claims, and was fired as a result.
Miller says she has hired an attorney and plans to file a discrimination lawsuit against the restaurant. The Chadwicks, Monica Abarca and Oropeza also plan on hiring lawyers
I agree with the employees' right to pursue this is a court of law. They feel they have a grievance that violated their rights as an employee and so collectively they are bringing this to court. These situations are what the legal process is for. I am glad they have an avenue to seek just compensation and to be heard. If the allegations are not correct - well, either way it will be handled in court.
Answer by frogdawg at 8:44 AM on Feb. 25, 2011
Answer by SuperChicken at 9:06 AM on Feb. 25, 2011
I cant tell, I posted some of the story....but it could be,,,could not be,,,,
Answer by sweet-a-kins at 9:28 AM on Feb. 25, 2011
Answer by samurai_chica at 10:25 AM on Feb. 25, 2011
Next question overall
Why is it that the cafemom website takes longer to upload/download now...