BROOKLYN: Cater-Waiter Sues Houston Rockets Over Homophobic Taunting

A New York City man is suing the NBA franchise Houston Rockets and a local catering company, claiming that he was suspended without pay in retaliation for complaining that Rockets players had taunted him with homophobic slurs while he set up a buffet in the visiting team locker room at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The incident happened early last year, prior to the signing of Jason Collins by the Brooklyn Nets.

Via the New York Daily News:

“Get this faggot out of here!” and “He’s trying to catch a sneaky peeky!” are two comments hurled at him and accompanied by laughter, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court. “It was loud and gregarious and there were overlapping voices,” Tate’s lawyer Marjorie Masidor told the Daily News. A representative of the Brooklyn Nets allegedly witnessed the Feb. 22, 2013, incident and told Tate to leave the locker room and that he would “take care of it,” according to the suit. Tate was working for the Levy Restaurant catering department, which was providing food service for the visiting team, referees and the Nets’ dancers’ locker rooms. Among the players on the Rockets roster for the game were James Harden, Carlos Delfino and former Knick sensation Jeremy Lin. The lawyer would not say whether Tate could identify which jerks made the ugly comments.

The lawsuit notes that the Brooklyn Nets responded properly when the complaint was first lodged.

According to the suit, Tate reported the incident to Levy’s catering manager, a Local 100 union representative, and received an apology from the Nets’ vice president of human resources. Tate was also told that the Brookyn Nets players had attended a class on “tolerance and sensitivity training” in response to the Rockets’ alleged behavior. But Tate was the one who was benched. He said he was barred from working in dressing rooms, locker rooms and private VIP areas which are lucrative assignments because of the overtime pay. He was suspended without pay in January for failing to follow instructions, such as maintaining a dirty chef table and retrieving a fork for a customer. Tate claims the accusations were retaliation for his sex harassment complaint.

The Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center are not named in the suit. The suit seeks unspecified damages from the Houston Rockets and the catering company, neither of whom have yet issued reactions.