Lexington restaurant agrees to settle lawsuit alleging discrimination by former employee

Marcus Dorsey/mdorsey@herald-leader.com

The owners of Frank & Dino’s, a downtown Lexington Italian restaurant, have agreed to settle a lawsuit by a former employee who claimed she was fired because of her age, weight and appearance.

Scarlett Tracey, a 47-year-old Frankfort resident, filed the lawsuit in September 2022 alleging the owner of the restaurant, Carlo Vaccarezza, made multiple derogatory comments about her looks and ultimately fired her for her physical appearance. Frank & Dino’s is owned by Post Time LLC.

Vaccarezza denied the allegations of discrimination in a legal reply, according to court documents. He said Tracey was fired for “poor work performance.”

But the parties agreed to settle, according to Tom Miller, Vaccarezza’s attorney. He said settlement amounts were not disclosed in public documents and were confidential.

Miller said he was not able to provide additional comment to the Herald-Leader.

The lawsuit was “dismissed as settled, with prejudice,” by Fayette County Circuit Judge Thomas Travis earlier this year. Travis ordered that each party pay their own costs and court fees, according to court documents. The lawsuit had been filed in August.

Tracey’s attorney, Brad Zoppoth, was also not able to comment on the terms of the settlement, and said it is confidential. Zoppoth stated Tracey was aware of the settlement and that the case was resolved.

Bartender: Restaurant owner repeatedly criticized her looks

Tracey was hired after a soft opening of the restaurant in August 2021, when she voluntarily bought black clothes and went behind the bar to help a struggling bartender during busy business hours, according to her lawsuit.

In the lawsuit, Tracey alleges that a manager at the restaurant heard Vaccarezza make several derogatory comments, including asking if they were “hiring bartenders by the pound now.” The owner was also accused of saying Tracey was “not attractive enough” to work at the restaurant and calling Tracey “fat and ugly.” The manager alleged in a sworn affidavit that Vaccarezza wanted Tracey fired because of her appearance.

In addition to two written affidavits from former supervisors of Tracey, Zoppoth previously said he took Tracey’s case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found that there was reasonable cause to believe the restaurant violated non-discrimination laws.

Restaurant owners blamed ‘poor work performance’

Prior to settling, attorneys for Frank & Dino’s alleged in court records that Tracy was fired based on her “poor work performance.” The restaurant alleged Tracey “failed to arrive at work on time, lacked proficiency as a bartender, how to make specialty drinks, and was suspected of drug use.”

Tracey and her attorney had previously denied these allegations, and said there was no documentation of any of these issues occurring in the workplace. Frank & Dino’s said Tracey hadn’t been disciplined for any wrongdoing on the job but also said she was an at-will employee who could be fired at any time.