A jury has ordered restaurateur Edward Globokar to pay $1.6 million in damages to a former employee after he began using work time to pray for her to be cured of being a lesbian.
The New York Post reports jurors awarded chef Mirella Salemi $1.2 million in punitive damages and $400,000 in compensatory damages.
Salemi quit her job at the Mary Ann restaurant on West Broadway, New York, after what she alleged was a sustained campaign of discrimination by Globokar. The Post reports the former owner of Mary Ann’s made her life a “living hell” by holding employee prayer meetings, some of which were reportedly designed to pray for her soul.
“He not only threatened her soul, but he also threatened her livelihood,” said Derek Smith of Derek Smith Law Group P.C. which specializes in sexual orientation and sexual harassment claims and represented Salemi in this case. “He thought praying might cure her of her sexuality, but she is someone who didn’t need to be saved.”
The verdict, handed down on March 6, noted that while Globokar included all employees in his forced prayer meetings and told all of them that they risked eternal damnation for not sharing in his beliefs, Salemi seemed especially singled out because of her sexual orientation.
As Edge Boston notes, Globokar’s evangelizing over Salemi’s sexual orientation is interesting for the fact that the Mary Ann restaurant is situated on West Broadway in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood, an area that has earned a reputation as a prime “gay neighborhood.”