Cases & Advocacy

Lessik v. East Bay Iceland, Inc.

Status: Closed

Outcome: Victory

Location: California

Represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Amy Todd and Tamara Fisher of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, John Manzon-Santos and Alan Lessik, who are both award-winning amateur figure skaters and were training for the 2006 Gay Games, filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court seeking redress for sexual orientation discrimination under the Berkeley Municipal Code and the Unruh Civil Rights Act. Both the local code and state law prohibit discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Manzon-Santos and Lessik alleged that, while training for the pairs competition at Berkeley, California’s Iceland, they were harassed, discriminated against, and kicked out of their home rink for skating together, hampering their ability to practice their routines and properly train for the Gay Games.

The parties agreed to mediate the case, and reached an amicable resolution on May 9th. As part of the settlement agreement, East Bay Iceland agreed to: issue a public apology and confirm their commitment to equal treatment of all patrons; require all of its employees to undergo diversity training; prominently display placards in all three of its locations (Berkeley, Dublin, and Belmont) in part stating “[Iceland] undertakes continual efforts to open the world of skating to individuals in an environment free from intimidation, harassment, or bias”; sign the “Tip of the Iceberg” anti-discrimination pledge; make donations to both NCLR and the Federation of Gay Games; host a Gay/Straight Skate Night on a monthly basis at Berkeley Iceland; offer weekly “pairs preferred” freestyle skating sessions at Berkeley Iceland, and free admission to the pairs preferred sessions to Manzon-Santos and Lessik for one year.