The owners of a Florida restaurant have denied every charge made in a lawsuit filed last month by a former employee who says he was harassed after reporting that a waitress got fired for becoming pregnant.
Former manager Julio Canizales said the owners of the Golden Lion Restaurant in Flagler Beach insulted and belittled him after he confronted them in 2011 about the woman’s termination, which he believed violated state and federal law.
According to the suit, the restaurant had a policy in place to fire pregnant employees due to liability issues.
“When a woman is fired like this because she is pregnant, you are taking away her life,” said his attorney, Kelly Chanfrou. “She is not going to be able to support herself and most likely, because she is showing, she may not be able to get another job elsewhere.”
Canizales also filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the suit claims.
The restaurant manager said one of the owners told him she was not going to pay unemployment for the pregnant woman because “that’s what welfare is for.”
Canizales, who is Hispanic, also said his employers called him a “monkey” and mocked his English speaking and writing skills.
He also said the restaurant’s owners directed him to lie under oath during an employee compensation hearing.
His attorney said Canizales was fired in March 2012 after working at the Golden Lion for nearly seven years.
But an attorney for the restaurant’s owners refuted each of the claims made in the suit filed Jan. 30 in Flagler County Circuit Court.
“He was never referred to in a derogatory manner, including being called a ‘monkey,’” said attorney Richard L. Allen Jr. “He was never stripped of his managerial duties, to the owners’ knowledge never took issue with employee policies and was not fired, but quit his job without notice.”
The waitress, Brittany Henderson, settled her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2011, but terms were not available.
Allen said the complaint was settled amicably and the restaurant admitted no wrongdoing.
Canizales is seeking more than $15,000 in damages in his suit.
Watch this video report posted online by WFTV-TV:
[Image: Waitress via Shutterstock]