The former executive pastry chef at Mar-a-Lago is suing President Donald Trump’s private club and two senior managers claiming he was laid-off in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment against two female chefs.
The ex-chef, who worked at the club in Palm Beach from 2012 to 2017, reported to the club’s human resources department complaints he received from two young chefs who said they had been targets of sexual harassment, including lewd text messages, by two married, high-level food and beverage managers, according to the lawsuit.
Mar-a-Lago’s management looked into the ex-chef’s claims and he was interviewed as part of the investigation, which resulted in both managers receiving written reprimands and apologizing to the women, according to the lawsuit. About six months later, in October 2017, according to the suit, the managers who were reprimanded then laid him off, saying the club expected to lose $2.5 million from charity fundraisers that were canceled in the wake of the president’s comments about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one woman dead.
The man, who has also filed a federal employment discrimination action against the club, did not believe their explanation, saying in his complaint that at the same time the club was hiring more foreign guest workers than it had the year before, including pastry chefs.
As for the lag time between the managers’ reprimand and the elimination of his position, the man said in his federal complaint that he believed they “waited sufficient time to cover their tracks, and then retaliated against me.”
Trump routinely receives visas to hire foreign workers as housekeepers, servers and kitchen staff at Mar-a-Lago, as do other area resorts and businesses. Trump received visas for 78 workers for the 2018-19 season, up from 70 workers in 2017-18, when the man was laid off. During the 2016-17 season, Trump hired 64 foreign workers at his Palm Beach club.
The Civil Rights Act protects all employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. These laws also protect employees from retaliation. Retaliation often occurs when an employer punishes an employee for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. There are various federal laws that protect against retaliation and establish the rights of “whistleblowers,” people who file complaints about unsafe workplaces.
In order to establish grounds for a lawsuit, retaliation must have a negative impact on your employment. If you have reason to believe that an employer, manager, or another person is retaliating against you in the workplace, our Florida Retaliation Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. We can investigate your claim and help you learn whether retaliation is taking place. If you are indeed the victim of workplace retaliation, we will fight aggressively to obtain justice on your behalf.