A Long Island restaurateur berated and beat a gay employee in front of other staffers after he wore the wrong shoes to work, slugging him so hard a tooth flew from his mouth as he barked “F—king faggot I’ll murder you!” according to a new federal lawsuit.
On Nov. 15, 2019, Emilio’s Pizzeria & Ristorante owner Emilio Branchinelli, who has launched at least five Long Island eateries in the last decade, noticed that waiter Michael Abenante was wearing black Converse sneakers, according to the complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court on Friday.
Branchinelli ordered the server, who was hired at the Commack restaurant in late 2017, to buy new shoes on his break or “find another f–king job,” wrote attorney John Luke Jr. in the complaint.
But when Abenante returned with a new pair, an enraged Branchinelli told him they were not the right shoes. “You look like a f–king homo mountain climber, are you f–king stupid?” his boss allegedly admonished. “You and your c–t mother both should’ve died when she pushed you out!”
The disturbing tirade continued as Branchinelli chased the waiter from the restaurant, allegedly kicking him in the lower back and punching him in the face so hard he spit out a tooth, the complaint alleges. “F–king faggot I’ll murder you,” Branchinelli allegedly seethed during the beating.
After the humiliating assault, Abenante never returned to the restaurant, where he allegedly faced harassment and discrimination from the moment he was hired.
The kitchen staff allegedly called him “culero” — a Spanish slur for a homosexual — and whistled at him, blew him kisses and slapped his behind, the papers allege.
He repeatedly complained to management — but nothing was done, the filing states.
Waitress Sabrina Kozminsky, who was hired in June 2019, was another victim of sexual harassment and discrimination while employed at the restaurant, according to the suit. She was subjected to groping and a barrage of sickening comments from the kitchen staff — including “I wanna put a baby inside you” and “You like it in the a—?” the lawsuit charges.
She repeatedly complained to her supervisor, Lena Branchinelli, who is the owner’s daughter, but the harassment escalated, the papers allege.
“The pizza kitchen manager, Jose Daniel, crouched down to get something beneath her while she was standing at a computer kiosk in the back, and groped her leg up to her buttocks with his hand,” the complaint charges. A few months later, another employee grabbed her butt.
“Due to the “sexually charged hostile work environment” she was forced to quit, the papers state.
Abenante and Kozminsky are suing for punitive and non-punitive damages alleging civil rights violations and discrimination. Abenante also alleges civil battery.
Emilio Branchinelli didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Lena Branchinelli declined.