By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com April 02 2014 8:44 PM ET
A gay man who worked in food service at the Barclays Center, the home arena of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, has filed a suit claiming members of the visiting Houston Rockets harassed him with gay slurs before a game last year and that his employer fired him when he complained.
Rasean Tate, 28, of Brooklyn, filed the suit in federal court in the borough yesterday, the New York Post reports. He names the Rockets and Levy Restaurant Holdings, which handles catering at the arena, as plaintiffs, and he claims antigay discrimination and other civil rights violations.
Tate says he was setting up a pregame buffet in the visitors’ locker room February 22, 2013, when the incident occurred. “When the plaintiff’s back was turned to defendant Rockets players, he began to hear laughter and taunting voices saying ‘get this f-- out of here!’ ” and ‘He’s trying to catch a sneaky-peeky!’” the suit claims. The harassment continued until a Nets representative advised Tate to leave the room. The suit does not name the individual players.
Tate says he complained to a Levy manager about the matter and he received an apology, but the company then began phasing him out of locker-room duty and cutting his hours. He was eventually let go for what he says are trumped-up reasons.
“What happened to my client was deplorable,” Marjorie Mesidor, Tate’s lawyer, told the Post. “It should not be tolerated by the Houston Rockets or Levy’s. What they needed to do was address his concerns, not retaliate against him for having the courage to speak up.” The team and the catering company did not immediately respond to the Post’s requests for comment on the suit.
The Nets and Barclays Center are not parties to the suit. Nets management responded to the situation by giving sensitivity training to players, the Post reports. The team made news this year by signing Jason Collins, the first openly gay active player in the NBA.