The Problems That Follow You Even After Selling Out

An Oregon bar owner finds himself saddled with a large lawsuit payment—even after he sold the business.
Business Writers
June 13, 2012

The former owner of an Oregon bar and grill and his defunct business have been ordered to pay $172,000 for demoting and then firing an employee because she was pregnant.

Gary Speaks, owner of CyberCenter Sports Grill, hired Amanda Glover in 2008 as a server and bartender. Her pay was minimum wage—$8.40 per hour—plus tips. In February 2009, Speaks promoted Glover to assistant manager and raised her pay to $10 per hour plus tips, according to a 48-page report from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries commission.

A Bad 'Attitude'

In May 2009, Glover said she told Speaks she was pregnant. Later that month, according to her account, Speaks hired a new manager and Glover was demoted to her former job of server. Her pay was cut back to minimum wage.

At a four-day hearing held in January of this year, Glover said her new manager, Jay Winegar, told her that he didn’t believe she was “going to have the availability we are looking for in the future because you are pregnant.” Glover’s plan had been to work through her pregnancy, then return after she delivered the baby, she said.

On June 1, 2009, Glover received a voicemail at home from Winegar saying she had been fired because of her “attitude.”

According to witnesses' testimony, the day Glover was fired, Speaks, his wife and Winegar discussed the decision. Winegar said, according to the report, that “because of [Glover’s] constant references to her pregnancy we really need to cover our butts.”

Speaks denied Glover was fired because of her pregnancy—he fired her, he said, because of her attitude about the mistakes she had made, including serving minors and not calculating discount coupons properly. The firing left Glover feeling “depressed,” “degraded” and “belittled,” she testified. She also had to apply for food stamps, and was forced to borrow money from her mother.

The Ruling

Oregon’s BOLI found “a general lack of credibility” in Speaks’s and Winegar’s testimony.

The commission decided that based on a “preponderance of evidence” the restaurant had "engaged in three distinct unlawful employment actions”—demoting Glover from her assistant night manager position, cutting her pay and discharging her, the ruling said. Speaks "aided and abetted" in the unlawful discharge.

The restaurant, which Speaks sold in August 2010 and is now defunct, owes Glover $20,000 for her emotional and mental suffering based on her demotion, plus $44.40 in back pay. Speaks himself is liable for an additional $12,172 in back pay plus $140,000 in emotional and mental suffering damages for aiding and abetting the unlawful termination. (Glover's baby was born on Dec. 29, 2009. By mid-April 2010 she was working at another restaurant as a server/bartender, according to the report.)

Speaks told the Mail Tribune that BOLI got it wrong, but that he would not appeal—or pay Glover a cent.

"The sports bar is gone," Speaks said. "And I'm retired. What are they going to get out of me? I own nothing. I have no assets whatsoever."
He added: "One of the biggest mistakes I've ever made in my life was opening up a restaurant.”

Photo credit: Hemera/Thinkstock

Business Writers