A supporter of former President Trump is suing a West Hollywood eatery, alleging he was forced to quit his job there in 2020 after the liberal-leaning owner repeatedly harassed him because of the plaintiff’s political views.
Plaintiff Joseph Bliven, a heterosexual, also maintains he was subjected to repeated sexual advances by co-workers and customers at WeHo Bistro and told when he complained that he should just get used to it because that was how things were in West Hollywood.
Bliven’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against the restaurant and its owner, Jeff Douek, alleges wrongful termination, discrimination based upon political affiliation and exercise of protected rights, sexual orientation harassment and failure to prevent harassment.
Bliven seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit brought Tuesday. Douek could not be immediately reached.
Bliven was hired as a server at the La Cienega Boulevard restaurant in 2013, excelled in his position and was well liked by customers, according to his suit. He is politically conservative and identifies as a Republican, in contrast to Douek, a liberal Democrat, the suit states.
“Douek was vocal with employees and customers about his support for the Democratic party and his disdain for President Donald Trump and the Republican party,” the suit states.
In February 2016, Douek opened a bottle of champagne with customers and staff at WeHo Bistro to celebrate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the suit states.
After Trump become a front contender for the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential election, Douek began fostering a work environment at WeHo Bistro where employees were bullied, shamed and targeted if they held or expressed political beliefs different from Douek, the suit alleges.
Douek kept a toilet brush in the restaurant bathroom which had a doll replica of Trump on it, and the orange bristles of the were meant to be Trump’s hair, the suit states.
After Bliven told Douek in response to a question from the owner that he liked Trump, “a shift took place in Douek’s demeanor towards Bliven” as the owner began acting hostile toward the plaintiff in an effort to “bully, shame and intimidate” Bliven because of his political beliefs, the suit states.
Douek once brought red hats to the eatery bearing a progressive slogan using words that made fun of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan, the suit states.
Douek wanted to take a photo of the staff members wearing the hats and told Bliven to put the hat on and get in the photo, but the plaintiff refused and took the photo of the other staff members wearing the hat instead, the suit states.
Douek also pressured Bliven to tell him whether he believed in the existence of the “deep state,” and the owner told the plaintiff last October that he thought it was funny that Trump had become sick with the coronavirus, the suit states.
“Douek told Bliven he hoped the president died from the disease,” the suit states. “Douek then began laughing.”
Douek once asked Bliven if he was a member of the Proud Boys and the plaintiff replied that he was not, the suit states.
“Bliven was offended by the constant taunting and stereotyping based on his political beliefs and affiliation,” the suit states.
Bliven returned from a trip to Florida last November and Douek told him he could not resume working until he took a coronavirus test, a requirement not made of other employees who had traveled outside the state, the suit states.
“Bliven was being singled out to take a COVID-19 test purely because of his political affiliation,” the suit states.
The plaintiff was forced to quit given that he could only return to work by complying with Douek’s discriminatory demands, the suit states.
During Bliven’s employment, the heterosexual plaintiff was subjected to harassment in the workplace due to his sexual orientation by co-workers and customers who told subjected him to unwanted sexual advances, the suit states.
When Bliven complained to Douek and other supervisors at WeHo Bistro, they old him that was “simply the way things were in West Hollywood and Bliven better just get used to it,” according to the suit.