Restaurant Wrongfully Terminated Latino Employee Based on Health Status

Los Angeles, CA – Today, MALDEF filed a lawsuit against the famed Robertson Boulevard restaurant, The Ivy, for violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and discriminating against a former employee. The suit was filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles County.

The lawsuit charges that the restaurant – one of L.A.'s leading celebrity hangouts, attracting a virtual who's who of Hollywood stars and moguls – wrongfully terminated its employee on the basis of his medical condition at the beginning of last year. FEHA is a California protection that prohibits employment discrimination based on medical condition; race or color; religion; national origin and many other factors.

"The Latino workforce is the backbone of many critical industries in California, including the restaurant industry," stated MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz. He added, "Latino workers deserve protection, like anyone else, from discrimination based on bias against health condition or based on any other irrational bias."

The Plaintiff was a fully qualified employee in good standing at The Ivy for five months before he was wrongfully terminated. He was diagnosed with HIV in December 2010 and in January 2011, began taking necessary prescription medications to treat his condition. Unable to finish his shift because of strong side effects from his medication, the Plaintiff went home ill to regain the strength he knew he would need to perform his duties as a busser to the best of his ability. He was subsequently asked by management not to come to work for the rest of the week.

When the Plaintiff returned to work the next week, he provided notification from his doctor requesting that the restaurant "please facilitate patient request on work schedule change." The doctor, from the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic – one of the nation's foremost HIV/AIDS care providers – confirmed that the Plaintiff was able to perform his job despite his medical condition. Instead of accommodating him according to state law, The Ivy terminated the Plaintiff.

"The Ivy cannot target employees with HIV for discrimination. Individuals in these vulnerable situations are in particular need of their jobs, and any employer choosing to discriminate faces the possibility of a civil suit," stated Victor Viramontes, MALDEF National Senior Counsel.

The Ivy's failure to accommodate the Plaintiff according to doctor's orders and its decision to unfairly terminate him both violate civil rights protections. MALDEF is committed to seeking justice for all vulnerable Californian's terminated by their employers in violation of state and federal laws.

A copy of the complaint is available online at:

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund