The Ivy Restaurant Sued by HIV-Positive Worker Reymundo Martinez
Celebrity restaurant The Ivy was sued today for allegedly firing a busboy because he's HIV positive.
The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund announced the suit today, saying that the worker was terminated in violation of the state Fair Employment and Housing Act, which prohibits letting someone go because of a medical condition.
According to the suit:
The plaintiff, Reymudo Martinez, worked at the Robertson Boulevard hot-spot for five months before he was diagnosed with HIV in December in 2010.
In January, after he had a hard time working a shift as a result of side effects from his medication, and after his doctor requested a shift change to better accommodate his situation, the man was fired, MALDEF claims.
An employee at The Ivy today told the Weekly that version of events "is not true." A message was left for management for a more official response.
The suit (PDF) claims that his termination letter was the first time Martinez received negative feedback at work.
MALDEF president Thomas A. Saenz:
The Latino workforce is the backbone of many critical industries in California, including the restaurant industry. Latino workers deserve protection, like anyone else, from discrimination based on bias against health condition or based on any other irrational bias.
The Ivy is known for its outdoor patio and paparazzi camped out front. The West Hollywood-adjacent eatery has been a regular destination for the likes of Lindsay Lohan, people named Hilton, Rob Lowe, and entire Hollywood agencies.
[Update at 1:08 p.m.]: Ivy owner Richard Irving responded quickly, telling the Weekly that the restaurant did not know about Martinez's status when he was fired for simply, he argued, being a bad worker.
He said that the average worker at The Ivy has spent about 15 years at the restaurant and that some employees have been there for 30. Martinez was virtually on probation as a new busser and simply didn't make the cut after about 5 months, he said:
We had a lot of complaints from his fellow workers that he wasn't pulling his weight. We don't enjoy letting people go, and we try to give them the benefit of the doubt. We didn't act immediately. We tried to get him trained and tried to help him and gave him time. But he never caught on, and he was never good.
As far as Martinez's HIV status, Irving says, "We didn't know any of that. We became aware of it after."