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Gay Ted Cruz hotel hit by lawsuit in staff make-up and nail polish row

Gay Ted Cruz hotel hit by lawsuit in staff make-up and nail polish row

New York hoteliers Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass have found themselves the subject of more negative publicity this week.

The gay business owners – who own The OUT Hotel in midtown Manhattan and venues on Fire Island, among other properties – are still fighting to rebuild their reputation after making the ‘mistake’ (their words) of hosting a private dinner for Republican Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz

This week, it emerged that four former and current employees have launched a lawsuit against KTCHN and XL – the restaurant and club space within The OUT.

The lawsuit, which can be read here, is split into two parts. The first concerns staff payments, and alleges that the venues ‘operated various schemes to cheat its service employees out of their properly earned wages.’

More specifically, it alleges that the venues failed to pay for overtime work and withheld part of their tips – saying the pooled tips from credit card transactions were not distributed in the same way as cash tips.

The second part of the lawsuit concerns allegations from two of the employees, Donald Shorter and James Stress. The two say that they were discriminated against for failing to ‘adhere to masculine stereotypes.’

Shorter and Stress say that they wore nail polish and make up, but that they turned up for work one day to find a new note concerning grooming and personal appearance attached to the pay slips of all staff.

The Advocate reports the note, issued by restaurant manager Anton Washington, stated:

‘Attire/Grooming — Please come to work properly dressed and be prepared to start your shift when you clock in. If you do not have proper attire i.e. black uniform shirt or black apron, they can be purchased in the office, BUT do not allow this to become a trend. Also, please keep excessive makeup and nail polish to a minimum gentlemen. The only acceptable time for gentlemen to wear makeup or nail polish will be for Sunday Brunch during Haus of Mimosa.’

Shorter and Stress say that no such stipulations regarding nail polish and make-up were issued to female members of staff. When Shorter complained, the suit says, ‘Defendants reprimanded and humiliated him and refused to alter the policy or make an exception.’

The suit says that ‘despite advertising itself as New York’s “first gay, straight-friendly urban resort located in the epicenter of gay life,” and being described in the media as “gay-friendly”, Defendants discriminated against Plaintiffs Donald Shorter and James Stress on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation.’

The suit – which is against 42nd Street Kitchen, KTCHN, XL and Anton Washington – was filed in early May in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Borrelli and Associates is the law firm representing the plaintiffs. The civil action is on behalf of specific plaintiffs and ‘all others similarly-situated.’

Approached by Gay Star Business, nobody at The OUT responded to our request for comment.