A former bartender for a Hollywood nightclub for magicians that bills itself as “the most extraordinary private club in the world” is suing his ex-employer, alleging he was discriminated against and wrongfully fired because he was gay.
William J. Peters’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Friday, is the second he has brought in two months against the Academy of Magical Arts Inc. and the Magic Castle, a chateau-style building constructed more than a century ago on Franklin Avenue. The latest lawsuit additionally alleges retaliation and civil extortion. Peters seeks unspecified damages.
A man who answered the phone at the Magic Castle Tuesday said he had no comment on the new complaint. Callers to the academy’s reservation line are told the establishment is “the most extraordinary club in the world, where history, art and elegance combine to make miracles.”
According to the new lawsuit, “clear examples of discrimination based on sexual orientation can be gleaned from defendants’ scheduling of shifts.”
A Magic Castle manager told Peters he was not allowed to work the same shift as his “significant other” because they were a “couple,” a rule that did not apply to heterosexual couples who wanted to work during identical time frames, the suit states.
“Plaintiff asserts that he was retaliated against by defendants due to his being a gay male and associating with his significant other, a gay male employee of defendants,” the suit states.
Peters believes he was fired in retaliation because he had a relationship with a male partner who also worked at the Magic Castle as a bartender, and because he had given testimony unfavorable to his employer in a wrongful termination/discrimination lawsuit brought by another ex-employee, the suit states.
Magic Castle management threatened Peters with criminal prosecution and said he would be jailed if he filed suit against them, the suit alleges.
One top manager tried to further intimidate Peters by telling him that he “had a great relationship with the LAPD and that they were just a phone call away,” the suit states.
After his firing, management told Peters he “would never be allowed on a date” with his male partner at the Magic Castle again, the suit alleges.
In his earlier proposed class-action suit filed Nov. 10, Peters alleges Magic Castle failed to pay overtime to bar and restaurant staff and to provide them with meal and rest breaks.
If Peters and other class members on breaks were contacted by supervisors, “the break was deemed over and (they) had to return to (work) immediately,” the lawsuit alleges.
–City News Service