Mexican restaurant chain owner, Edward Globokar, was ordered to pay Chef Mirella Salemi $1.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages by a New York judge today. Salemi, a lesbian who worked at a restaurant named “Mary Ann’s,” reported that Globokar would order his staff to attend weekly prayer meetings, where he would say that gays were “sinful” and “going to hell.” Can’t you feel that Christian love?
Unsurprisingly, Salemi couldn’t, either. That was why she filed the lawsuit against Globokar, Gloria’s Tribeca Inc., and Gloria’s Tribecamex, under the New York City Human Rights Law.
Salemi also reported that Globokar instructed her to dress more feminine and that she should marry a man and have children. The list of his abuse goes on. A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division’s Manhattan-based First Department affirmed an earlier verdict by writing:
Additional evidence demonstrated that as a result of Globokar’s improper conduct, plaintiff was retaliated against for objecting to his offensive comments, choosing not to attend workplace prayer meetings and refusing to fire another employee because of his sexual orientation.
Globokar claimed that he was, “exercising his first amendment right” to bully Salemi. The trial court rejected that claim:
“The trial court properly protected Globokar’s First Amendment rights by instructing the jury that he had ‘a right to express his religious beliefs and practice religion, providing that he does not discriminate against his employees based on religion or sexual orientation.”
This may be news to some, including Globokar, but you can’t discriminate against and bully your employees and call it “freedom of speech”. No, that does not mean you’re persecuted. It means if you’re an employer, you have to be a civil member of a multicultural and religiously pluralistic society.