Florida Gay Bar Fires Four Women Gay-Rights Group Charges Discrimination against `Straight' Employees

Article excerpt

When the Late Show Night Club went gay, out went four barmaids who were not.

"It's the twist of all twists, a gay bar firing straight women," said Todd Simmons, spokesman for a statewide gay-rights group that has taken up their cause.

"Sexual orientation has no bearing on your capacity to mix drinks or serve them. Discrimination is wrong, whether it's directed against gays and lesbians or straights," said Simmons, a leader of the Tampa-based Human Rights Task Force of Florida.

The women said that the lounge had switched to a gay club two weeks before Christmas and that owner Audrey McGillivray told them they were being fired because they were not gay and would not fit in.

Bar manager Lenny Credico said that the crowd would be mostly gay men and that they prefer having gay men serve them.

Simmons helped steer the women to lawyer Kay Morgan.

Morgan plans to file a complaint with the Florida Human Rights Commission and eventually take the case to court, claiming sex discrimination against bartenders Carolyn O'Neill and Kathy Shappell, and cocktail waitresses Judy Whyte and Julie Meindersma.

Such a case would be reminiscent of the strategy used by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now a U.S. Supreme Court justice, when she won many of her women's rights victories before the high court in the 1970s by using male plaintiffs to attack gender-based stereotypes. …