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Tate v. Rocketball, Ltd.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 18, 2014

RASEAN J. TATE, Plaintiff,
v.
ROCKETBALL, LTD. and LEVY RESTAURANT HOLDINGS, LLC., Defendants

Page 269

Rasen J. Tate: Marjorie Mesidor, Nicole Ann Welch, Phillips & Associates, PLLC, Attorneys At Law, New York, NY.

Rocketball, Ltd.: Cristina E. Rodriguez, Baker Botts L.L.P., Houston, TX; Joseph Charles Perry, Joyce Yin-en Young, Baker Botts L.L.P., New York, NY.

Page 270

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JACK B. WEINSTEIN, Senior United States District Judge.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Facts

III. Summary Judgment

IV. New York City Human Rights Law

A. Discrimination by Employer Against Employee

B. Joint Employment

C. Aiding and Abetting

D. Implied Discriminatory Intent from Third Party Homophobia

V. Application of Law to Facts

A. Discrimination by Employer Against Employee

B. Joint Employment

C. Aiding and Abetting

D. Implied Discriminatory Intent from Third Party Homophobia

VI. VI. Conclusio

Page 271

I. Introduction

This case involves claims by a waiter, Rasean J. Tate, that caustic and cruel homophobic remarks directed at him by professional basketball players and staff caused him serious harm, including loss of income. He was employed by Levy Restaurant Holdings, LLC (" Restaurant" ) to deliver food and beverages to the locker room for the Houston Rockets' (" Rockets" ) players and staff when the team was at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Upon learning of the hostile remarks, Restaurant stopped sending Tate into the locker room.

Tate sues both Restaurant and Rocketball, Ltd. (" Rocketball" ), which owns and operates the Houston Rockets, as employers discriminating against him in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law, N.Y. City Admin. Code at § § 8-107(1)(a), et seq., Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 1, 102, 105, ECF No. 21.

Rocketball moves to dismiss. Its motion was converted to a motion for summary judgment.

Based on the present lack of evidence supporting an employer-employee relationship between the plaintiff and Rocketball, summary judgment is granted. For the reasons indicated below, the order is stayed for sixty days to allow plaintiff the opportunity for limited discovery.

As presently construed, the City's anti-discrimination statute does not cover acts by third party customers that cause an employer to discriminate against one of its employees. Restaurant, plaintiff's employer, does not seek to justify any discrimination charged to it on the ground that its acts limiting plaintiff's services were justifiable in response to invidious remarks and implied demands of its customer, Rocketball.

II. Facts

Plaintiff, a gay male, alleges that he was hired by Restaurant as a " Private Event Catering Server" at Barclays Center, a Brooklyn indoor arena used for basketball games and other events. Am. Compl. ¶ ¶ 9, 18, 21-22. Restaurant assigned plaintiff to serve food and beverages to visiting teams using Barclays' locker rooms. Id. at ¶ 23.

In February 2013, plaintiff was directed by Restaurant to deliver refreshments to Rockets' players in a Barclays' locker room during a National Basketball Association game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Rockets. Id. ¶ 26. His duties included setting up a buffet. Id. ¶ 26-28. After plaintiff entered the locker room, a number of Rockets' players laughed. Taunting voices said: " Get this faggot out of here!" and " He's trying to catch a sneaky peaky!" These comments were repeated a number of times by the Rockets' players and staff. Id. ¶ 29.

A representative of the Brooklyn Nets witnessed the episode; he instructed plaintiff to " just leave," and he would " take care of it." Id. ΒΆ 30. Restaurant and Rocketball were promptly notified of the ...


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