Bronx

Bronx Restaurant Fires Employee After Anti-Gay Remark to Married Couple

NBC Universal, Inc.

The sign on La Isla restaurant in the Bronx says you can’t come in without a mask --- but it doesn’t say anything about being gay.

Nelson Ayala and his husband Jamel Brown say they were discriminated against by an employee who saw them kiss at the eatery. They were asked to leave after they had already ordered their food. Nothing like this has ever happened to them in their neighborhood, so Ayala started recording the interaction with his phone.

The employee can be heard on video saying "hombre, mujer, hombre, mujer," meaning man and woman in Spanish.

“Men and men are not supposed to be together," Ayala recalled the employee telling him. "She was talking about her God, her heritage and her family."

The video also showed the couple standing up for themselves, telling another employee, “She's not supposed to say that. That’s discrimination."

The other employee tried to make it right by saying she has nothing against gay people, but the confrontation continued and Ayala called the police. That's when the employee began to apologize.

However, the damage was done. A woman who says she's the manager of the restaurant told NBC New York that La Isla is a family business and there's no room for discrimination.

“We let her go...that’s because we don’t allow that. We don’t accept that. That’s not us. She doesn’t represent us. She’s been with us for a long time but as soon as we found out, we let her go," the manager said.

Ayala and Brown said they didn’t want anyone to lose their job. They just wanted to order some food without a side homophobia.

“While you on work - keep your beliefs to yourself. We get it. It’s freedom of speech but while you are working - we don’t have to hear all that," Ayala said.

The couple filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau but they said they didn't file a police report. They are getting support in the community and the restaurant manager says she feels bad about the situation and wants them to come back. However, the couple said they're not ready to do that just yet.

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