Unidentified members of the Houston Rockets used homophobic slurs against a gay food server who was setting up a buffet at the arena of the Brooklyn Nets in a 2013 incident, a lawsuit by the man alleges.
Rasean Tate, 28, says in a federal discrimination lawsuit that his back was turned when the insults started flying.
"Get this f----t out of here!" and "He's trying to catch a sneaky peeky!" are two comments hurled at him and accompanied by laughter, according to the suit filed Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
A representative of the Brooklyn Nets allegedly witnessed the Feb. 22, 2013, incident and told Tate to leave the locker room and that he would "take care of it," according to the suit.
Tate filed the suit against the Rockets and against the company that employed him, Levy Restaurant Holdings. He says he was demoted and ultimately fired after complaining of the abuse. None of the Rockets who allegedly uttered the slurs were identified in the suit and it unclear if any of them are still on the team.
Lawyer Marjorie Mesidor blasted both the Rockets and the catering company for Tate's allleged mistreatment.
"What happened to my client was deplorable," she said. "It should not be tolerated by the Houston Rockets or Levy's. What they needed to do was address his concerns, not retaliate against him for having the courage to speak up."
Rockets forward Francisco Garcia, who played on the Rockets last year, said, "I don't remember anyone saying anything to anybody last year, so I don't have any comment on that."
Neither the Nets nor Barclays Center, where they play their games have been named in the suit, though the Nets put their players through sensitivity training in response. Ironically, a year after the alleged incident, the Nets signed Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay player.