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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 6, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 14
Lesbian chef wins big settlement
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Lesbian chef wins big settlement

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Lesbian chef Mirella Salemi is $1.6 million dollars richer as a result of an April 2 settlement with her former boss.

New York City restaurant owner Edward Globokar turned his West Broadway Tex-Mex restaurant, Mary Ann's, into a makeshift church, Salemi charged, ordering his employees to gather around as he prayed for God to 'heal' the Gay and Lesbian workers.

After six years, Salemi found the work environment unbearable, and quit Mary Ann's in 2007. She also sued Globokar for discriminating against employees who did not share his religious beliefs.

'He not only threatened her soul, but he also threatened her livelihood,' said Derek Smith, a lawyer for Salemi. 'He thought praying might cure her of her sexuality, but she is someone who didn't need to be saved.'

The Manhattan jury ordered Globokar to pay $400,000 in compensatory damages for Salemi's lost wages, and $1.2 million in punitive damages.

The Mary Ann's restaurant chain began in 1986, with its first franchise opening on Eighth Avenue in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, which was then becoming one of the city's most popular 'Gayborhoods.'

As one of New York's first Tex-Mex restaurants, Mary Ann's soon gained a huge following that included many Gay men.

The chain expanded to six locations, all of them once owned by Globokar.

New York state's Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act (SONDA) took effect in 2003. SONDA 'prohibits discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, credit, and the exercise of civil rights.'

New York City's anti-discrimination ordinances are reportedly even more stringent than state law.

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