A Sizzler restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens —yes, Sizzler is still around— is being slapped with a discrimination lawsuit after patron Liza Friedlander's "relaxing, enjoyable brunch" turned into "a horrifying ordeal of discrimination, violence and degradation":
After paying, Friedlander served herself from the buffet. As Friedlander was walking back toward her table to join her companions, a Sizzler manager aggressively approached her. In front of other restaurant patrons, the manager began yelling at Friedlander, accusing her of not paying for the breakfast buffet. He violently shoved Friedlander in the chest, causing her to fall backward, and kicked her in the legs while yelling for her to get out of the Sizzler and calling her a "fucking dyke."
The Sizzler dining room quickly devolved into a threatening scene when patrons began terrorizing Ms. Friedlander, with Sizzler patrons screaming at her, spewing homophobic and hate-filled epithets. A male diner began yelling at Friedlander, calling her a "he-she freak" and demanding that she leave the restaurant. Another man threatened to take Ms. Friedlander outside and sexually assault her, threatening that he would show her "what a dick is." The man then threw objects at Friedlander. Finally, after police arrived, a battered Friedlander was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Sizzler manager Edgar Orellana denies he ever touched Friedlander, saying "I'm Hispanic. I respect people of all ethnicities, races or sexuality. I'm here to work, not hurt anyone," and that Friedlander simply became upset once he told her brunch had ended.
"She tried to hit me with her plate," Orellana maintains. "I jumped back. A customer grabbed her so that she would not hit me. I didn't touch her. I went to my office and called 911. I did not come out again."
The case falls under the newly enacted bias crime law passed in August 2010 to "prosecute anti-LGBT violence and intimidation."
"Just because I don't appear to be the Sizzler manager's idea of what a woman should look like doesn't mean that gives him permission to attack me and allow other customers to join in," Friedlander said in a statement.
"My friends and I went in for Saturday brunch just like everyone else in the restaurant that morning, but it turned into a nightmare. No one should have to go through that." We'd also argue that with so many dining options in NYC, no one should have to go through a meal at Sizzler.
This brings up a lot of questions. If there really were patrons who were "spewing homophobic and hate-filled epithets," then there were also plenty of witnesses. But if most of those witnesses were against Friedlander, they may not feel very inclined to come forward and it may become a case of her friends vs. the restaurant.
Aside from that, if Friedlander's description of the events is true, this definitely seems a lot more brutal than the umbrella of "discrimination" would want to cover. But I suppose, sadly, you have to start somewhere.