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Hyatt hotel near Palm Springs accused of ‘unlawfully’ firing gay chef

Lawsuit says hotel backs supervisor who expressed ‘disgust’ for gays

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Hyatt Regency Indian Wells

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa. (Photo by Prayitno via Flickr)

A lawsuit that accuses a Hyatt Regency hotel located near Palm Springs, Calif., of supporting a supervisor who allegedly hatched a scheme to fire a gay chef after expressing “disgust and repulsion” for gay people is scheduled to go to trial on Aug. 9.

The lawsuit charges the Hyatt Corporation on behalf of its Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa hotel located in the city of Indian Wells, Calif., near Palm Springs, with wrongful termination and four other employment-related offenses for its decision to fire Dewy Rains, 58, an openly gay chef.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2018 in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Riverside.
It says Rains worked at Hyatt hotels at various locations since 1998 and worked as a banquet chef at the Hyatt in Indian Wells since 2007. It says he had an “exemplary” work performance record for 19 years without a single blemish up until November 2017.

It was at that time, the lawsuit charges, that Lawrence Eells, a newly hired executive chef who became Rains’ supervisor, “fabricated” allegations to “unlawfully and pretextually justify his wrongful termination” four months later on March 23, 2018. The lawsuit names Eells as a defendant in addition to the Hyatt Corporation.

“In or around October 2017, and within just mere days of Eells’ start as the Executive Chef at Hyatt Indian Wells, Eells pulled aside [Karine] Moulin (the kitchen manager and pastry chef),” the lawsuit says. “During this conversation, Eells ‘demean[ed] and belittle[ed] other Hyatt employees,” the lawsuit states.

“For no legitimate work-related reason, Eells also demonstrated personal disgust and repulsion for Rains and another gay Hyatt employee in the culinary department, and Eells’ disagreement with their gay ‘lifestyle,’” the lawsuit attributes Moulin as saying in a sworn statement.

The lawsuit also charges the Hyatt Corporation on behalf of Eells and other company officials with engaging in age and disability related discrimination against Rains for not providing reasonable accommodations for his status as a cancer patient and his need to take off from work for medical tests.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, has given the Hyatt Corporation a perfect score of 100 in its 2019 annual Corporate Equality Index, which rates U.S. corporations on their polices for protecting the rights of LGBT employees.

A spokesperson for the Hyatt Corporation didn’t respond to a phone message from the Blade seeking comment on the lawsuit.

In court documents responding to the lawsuit, the Hyatt Corporation denies all of Rains’ allegations of discrimination, saying that Eells and other hotel officials fired Rains for legitimate job performance issues.

Among other things, a Hyatt court brief calling for a dismissal of the lawsuit on summary judgment alleges that Rains was subjected to disciplinary action because he falsified an employee time card to hide the fact that the employee showed up for work late.

“After a few weeks under a new supervisor, Plaintiff was placed on a Performance Improvement Plan [PIP] that identified over twenty areas of deficiency in his performance and did not mention anything about his age, sexual orientation, or years-old cancer diagnosis,” Hyatt’s attorneys state in a motion to dismiss the case.

“Four months later Plaintiff was fired for failing to improve his performance in the areas outlined in the PIP and for altering the schedule of one of his subordinates to conceal the subordinate’s tardiness,” the Hyatt court filing says.

It adds that Rains “never witnessed” Eells or company personnel officials say or do anything to suggest the adverse personnel action was motivated by his age, sexual orientation, or cancer diagnosis.

In his response to the Hyatt motion to dismiss, Rains’ attorney, Kamran Shahabi, argues that Hyatt’s claim that Rains suddenly performed poorly at work after Eells became his supervisor lacks any credibility.

“There is no coincidence that, after zero performance-based issues for nearly 20 years of employment with Hyatt, Rains was given a pretextual performance improvement plan (that was subsequently retracted) – and fired just months after Rains made complaints of discrimination against defendant Lawrence Eells, who was newly hired as Rains’ supervisor in late 2017,” according to court papers filed by Shahabi opposing the motion to dismiss.

Shahabi told the Blade that Rains filed an internal complaint against Eells before a Hyatt employee grievance office accusing Eells of targeting him for discrimination, among other reasons, because he’s gay. The complaint prompted Eells to retaliate against Rains, the lawsuit charges, in another action that the lawsuit says violates state law in employment cases.

In a mixed ruling on July 2, Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia rejected Hyatt Corporation’s request for a full dismissal of the lawsuit and each of its 11 claims of wrongdoing and instead agreed to dismiss six of the claims.

The judge left standing five claims of action that Shahabi said represent the heart of the case and affirm that the lawsuit presented “substantial evidence” of wrongful termination and other charges sufficient to advance the case to a trial.

The five remaining claims set for trial on Aug. 9 are wrongful termination, retaliation, failure to prevent retaliation, negligent hiring (of Eells), and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“Frankly, the judge made our case much simpler because all of those facts related to Dewey’s sexual orientation discrimination, age, disability, etc. will come into evidence for these causes of action,” Shahabi told the Blade.

He said there have been no serious discussions of a possible settlement of the case, but Rains would be willing to consider a proposed settlement should the Hyatt Corporation offer such a settlement.

“The ball is in their court,” he said. “We’ve engaged them in discussions and they’ve kind of been not interested. But cases can settle on the doorsteps of the courthouse, so it’s always a possibility.”

This story has been updated and corrected. – KO

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Politics

Trump gives misogynistic & transphobic rant at young conservative rally

“If I were a coach, I wouldn’t be talking to too many women as we know women- I’d be getting some of these people that say they’re ‘women.'”

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Screenshot from Twitter

PHOENIX – In a two hour rambling address to an audience of approximately 5,000 plus at the Arizona Federal Theater on Saturday, former President Trump attacked fellow Republicans including his former Vice-President Mike Pence and also bizarrely attacked the U.S Women’s Olympic Soccer Team.

He also praised the highly criticised ‘audit’ of Arizona’s 2020 election data suggesting that it and other state audits would return him the presidency.

The U.S Women’s Olympic Soccer Team is led by co-captain 35-year-old out lesbian Megan Rapinoe who gained the former president’s enmity as an LGBTQ and civil rights activist. Rapinoe was early supporter of Black Lives Matter and earned Trump’s disdain she took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick.

Her feuding with the former president really ignited in 2019 when a reporter for the soccer magazine Eight by Eight asked Rapinoe if she’d be attending a ceremony at the White House as co-captain of U.S. women’s national soccer team, if the team won the World Cup.

Her answer was blunt, “I’m not going to the fucking White House,” she said. Trump responded with “Megan should WIN before she TALKS,” on his now banned twitter account and afterwards there were further harsh exchanges between the two on the social media platform.

At the rally in Phoenix, dubbed the “Rally to Protect Our Elections,” hosted by conservative group Turning Point USA’s PAC, Trump took aim at the Women’s Team who had suffered a significant rare 3-0 loss to the Swedish Women’s Team this past week.

Trump bemoaning the loss encouraged the hyped-up crowd to boo the U.S. Women’s soccer team. “Wokeism makes you lose,” he said. “The US Women’s Soccer team is a very good example of what’s going on,” he added as some in the crowd started to boo.

“Woke politics takes the life and joy out of everything. Woke-ism makes you lose, ruins your mind and ruins you as a person. You become warped. You become demented​,” he said.

“Earlier this week, [the women’s team] unexpectedly lost to Sweden, three to nothing, and Americans were happy about it​,” Trump told the crowd, who responded by cheering. “You proved that point before I even said it​,” Trump added to the audience, shaking his head. 

Dan Wetzel, the Yahoo Sports national columnist noted that even as criticism of the team mounted after the loss to Sweden, Rapinoe read and heard plenty of it.

“I know what it is,” she said. “I’m on social media. I’m not a hermit.”

Yet her reaction to waves of criticism was that it didn’t bother her. She sort of liked it, actually- she was heartened by it even, Wetzel wrote adding that “part of that is Rapinoe being Rapinoe; she puts herself out there and has never shied away from a fight. Part of it is that she sees the reaction as an unlikely sign of respect not just for this powerhouse team, but women’s sports in general.”

“I always welcome the criticism,” Rapinoe said Saturday after the U.S. responded by blitzing New Zealand, 6-1, to keep its gold medal hopes in play. “For women’s sports, criticism in the media still needs to get better.”

Back in Phoenix Trump’s tirade also included a bizarre rant where he speculated that the Los Angeles Lakers basketball’s team superstar LeBron James might get sex reassignment surgery and transition to being female.

Casting himself in a hypothetical role of a coach on a woman’s basketball team Trump in a transphobic way noted he would only recruit transgender athletes. “If I were a coach, I wouldn’t be talking to too many women as we know women,” he said. “I’d be getting some of these people that say they’re ‘women,'” he said.

“Somebody said that if LeBron James ever decided to get the operation, how would he be on the court? How would he be?” Trump said. Although James is absent in Olympic play, the U.S. Men’s Basketball Team suffered a loss to the French national team 83-76.

“LeBron James, you can have him,” Trump continued. “Did you see the basketball ratings that were terrible? They went up after his team was defeated.”

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World

Budapest Pride takes place amid Hungary LGBTQ rights crackdown

City’s mayor among parade participants

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Two participants in the Budapest Pride parade that took place in Budapest, Hungary, on July 25, 2021. (Courtesy photo)

BUDAPEST, Hungary — Thousands of people attended a Pride parade in the Hungarian capital of Budapest on Saturday that took place against the backdrop of the government’s ongoing efforts to curtail LGBTQ rights.

Budapest Mayor Gergely Karacsony, who is challenging Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in next year’s presidential election, is among those who participated in the Budapest Pride parade. Event organizers said upwards of 30,000 people took part.

“There were a lot of supporters and allies, lots of young people and some older people,” one Budapest Pride participant told the Los Angeles Blade.

The participant said someone shouted an anti-gay slur at them and their friends as they walked home while holding a rainbow flag. They said the parade was nevertheless peaceful.

“The mood was more like a protest, solidarity and marching for equal rights than a party,” they told the Blade. “I didn’t see drag queens and it felt a bit muted, but I’m happy we had such a peaceful and fun Pride.”

Participants in the Budapest Pride parade that took place in Budapest, Hungary, on July 25, 2021. (Courtesy photo) 

Budapest Pride took place less than a week after Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced he wants to hold a referendum on a new law that bans the promotion of homosexuality and sex-reassignment surgery to minors in the country.

The law took effect on July 8. The European Commission a week later announced it would take legal action against Hungary.

Hungarian lawmakers late last year amended the country’s constitution to define family as “based on marriage and the parent-child relation” with “the mother is a woman, the father a man” and effectively banned same-sex couples from adopting children. The Hungarian Parliament in April 2020 approved a bill that bans transgender and intersex people from legally changing their gender.

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West Hollywood

Arrest made in a kidnapping in West Hollywood bar & nightclub district

Detectives seek to speak with any additional witnesses or anyone who has had contact with Diaz on the night of the incident or in the past.

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Photos courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department announced in a tweet that deputies had arrested Fernando Diaz, 50, at 3 a.m. Friday morning after he was seen allegedly carrying an unconscious woman to a van and then driving off. Diaz was released on bond a day later, officials confirmed Sunday.

Diaz’s bail amount was set at $100,000 and he was released on Saturday after posting bond, according to the Sheriff’s Department’s inmate locator.

Detectives seek to speak with any additional witnesses or anyone who has had contact with Diaz on the night of the incident or in the past.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Cynthia Mejia at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Detective Bureau by calling 310-358-4028 or [email protected]

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