Lambda Legal files suit over homophobic attack at Sizzler restaurant in New York

Liza Friedlander

Liza Friedlander

Lambda Legal on Thursday filed a discrimination lawsuit against a Sizzler Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens, New York, on behalf a woman who was targeted because “she did not conform to the stereotypes of how a woman should look,” according to the complaint.

Liza Friedlander

On September 18, 2010, Liza Friedlander and two friends went to a Sizzler restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens for the breakfast buffet.

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.

The complaint filed by Lambda Legal argues that the Forest Hills Sizzler, owned and operated by Waroge Met, Ltd., a Queens-based company, violated the New York City and State Civil and Human Rights Laws because Friedlander was violently attacked and discriminated against based on her actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex in a place of public accommodation.

This case is the first test of the newly enacted bias crime law passed in August 2010 to hold individuals accountable for anti-LGBT violence and intimidation.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

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