$25K Payout For Gay Diner Attacked by Sizzler Manager


A woman who was violently attacked while dining with friends at a New York Sizzler restaurant has received $25, 000 in compensation.

In September of 2010 Liza Friedlander and her two friends were dining at a Sizzler restaurant (0489) in Queens. This was supposed to be an enjoyable brunch, but what began as a pleasant time soon devolved into a scene of discrimination and violence when the manager of the restaurant, Edgar Orellana, accused Friedlander of not paying her bill.

After a small verbal altercation, and in front of other restaurant goers, the restaurant manager began shouting homophobic slurs and shoved Friedlander in the chest, which caused her to fall to the floor. Thereafter, the manager began to kick her while calling her a “fucking dyke,” apparently in reference to her appearance.

Rather than come to her aid, some restaurant patrons then joined in the attack and, according to court documents, began screaming homophobic epithets at her, including one male diner who called her a “he-she freak.” Another man is reported to have begun throwing things at her while threatening to take her outside and sexually assault her, commenting that he would show her “what a dick is.”

Friedlander’s friends called 911, as did several other patrons. The police arrived and Friedlander was taken to a nearby hospital in order to have her injuries treated.

Lambda Legal subsequently filed a lawsuit on behalf of Friedlander against Waroge Met, Ltd., which does business with Sizzler Restaurant 0489, and against Orellana. The complaint established that the attack violated New York City and State level human rights laws over discrimination in public accommodations on grounds of gender, sexuality, and sex.

Orellana disputed Friedlander’s claims in court, saying that it was she who “freaked out” and attempted to hit him. He denied making homophobic slurs and contended that he removed himself from the situation and went to his office to dial 911.

However, the court entered a judgement against the business and Orellana after the defendants offered to allow judgement to be taken against them rather than going to trial. The court found against the restaurant and Orellana, affirming Friedlander had suffered discrimination and abuse while dining at the restaurant.

Said Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Natalie Chin about this case:

Liza Friedlander experienced violence, discrimination, and degradation at this restaurant because she did not conform to the stereotypes of how a woman should look. This intolerable behavior is prohibited under the New York State and City human rights laws. The result sends a strong message: Violent and discriminatory behavior motivated by bias against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals or transgender people will not be tolerated. Businesses are not exempt from treating LGBT people with dignity and respect.

Friedlander has also issued a comment about the case, saying:

I was attacked and threatened by people yelling terrible anti-LGBT slurs, throwing things at me and threatening to sexually assault me. On that day, I felt helpless, humiliated and frightened, but today I’m so proud that I stood up and did something about it. No one should have to go through a nightmare like that.

This case was the first to test a newly enacted bias crime law, passed in August 2010, that allows victims to sue in civil court.


Related Reading:
Court Rules Calling Someone ‘Gay’ Not Slanderous
NYT Focuses On How ‘Curvaceous’ Dead Trans Woman Was
New York Assembly Passes Trans Protection Bill

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to hawaii.


Neal Gay
Neal Gay5 years ago

Some people think they can SAY or DO whatever they want to gay people and gays are just suppose it take it. WRONG ! If that were true then EVERYONE has the right to SAY or DO whatever they want to whomever they want . The whole world is become more excepting toward gays so get on the bus or get left behind.

Joy Jin
Joy Jin5 years ago

It is so disgusting that other customers joined in instead of getting help. Shame on all of them

Lisa D.
Lisa D5 years ago

Robert K. again:
One comments on the article provided, which states that a woman (for WHATEVER reason) was badly beaten in a restaurant.. by the restaurant staff AND also by other patrons who insulted her for being gay.. maybe that was not the reason for her beating but regardless of that, she was badly beaten
I dont care what her "crime" was, a court of law should have been the only one to "punish" her for whatever wrong she may have done.
In this case the tables were turned because whether or not she was in the wrong to begin with, it was the restaurant staff and other guests who pushed things way too far. and that is the reason this woman was granted the $25000 settlement
Whatever she may have done to "deserve it" in their eyes is IRRELEVANT, it is against the law to beat up people surely

Jane R.
Jane R5 years ago

I hope this incident was reported to the owner of the restaurant and that he was fired. There is no excuse for his behavior. I'm shocked that other patrons joined him in his attack!

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Regardless of sexual orientation, this was a vile abuse attack!

Kynthia R.
Kynthia Rosgeal5 years ago

Robert you are assuming a lot. I didn't say I had any evidence, nor did I make up scenarios to fit my own theories unlike you I kept my opinions based solely on the story at hand, my opinions based on events current and kept the fantasies where they belng, not here.

Robert K Pavlick
Robert Pavlick5 years ago

Kynthia R and others say: "Where is your evidence ? Theories with no basis, Seems to me it is more your homophobia speaking than common sense or decency." and Alex I says: " - are you a minority Robert?"

To Alex, yes, I am a gay male and I guess a minority since "Other" outnumbers Caucasian.

To Kythia, Where is YOUR evidence? You are all claiming this as a hate crime, but where is the proof? Were she not a Lesbian, then you would be saying it was a crime against women and were she black, you would be saying that it was a racist crime, but we don't know that any of that is true do we?

I think that it was probably a loud-mouth, nuisancy customer who complained about everything, and yet ate it all and then refused to pay the bill. She ruined everyone else's dinner with her screaming and yelling and consequently everyone beat the crap out of her. While she didn't deserve to be beaten, neither did the rest of the restaurant goers deserve to have their peace and dinners ruined by someone who can't act responsibly and in a dignified manner.

I have witnessed scenes like this time and time again and I resent having my dinner experience ruined by self-absorbed, rude, inconsiderate big mouths who do not know how to act in civilized society.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal5 years ago

Was it over an unpaid bill? A declined credit card? People overreacted and allowed their baser nature to come through. Restaurants are about service and courtesy....this was missing in the situation.

antonia maestre
antonia maestre5 years ago

You thought prejudice was behind us? Think again...

RobynRobyn Brice
Robyn Vorsa5 years ago

Sheer madness. I work in retail and every now and again I will get a customer whose card gets declined or does not work. Do I fly into a rage? No. Do I become violent? No. Do I start to hit and kick and scream homophobic slurs? Nope.
I smile, explain the problem and ask if they have another form of payment. They usually do.
BTW, many of my customers are gay, trans etc and everyone is treated with courtesy
This guy and these other customers are obviously insane.