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Lesbian Couple Says Anti-Gay Staff at Sunset Park Hotel Denied Them a Room

By James Fanelli | December 24, 2015 7:56am
 Loren Parisella (pictured) said staff at the Sleep Inn in Sunset Park discriminated against her and her partner, Elizabeth Prestano, over her sexual orientation.
Loren Parisella (pictured) said staff at the Sleep Inn in Sunset Park discriminated against her and her partner, Elizabeth Prestano, over her sexual orientation.
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Linkedin/Loren Parisella

SUNSET PARK — A Staten Island lesbian couple hoping to get a room at a Sleep Inn in Brooklyn had a rude awakening when bigoted front desk staff treated them rudely because of their sexual orientation and told them the hotel had no vacancies, a new lawsuit charges.

Loren Parisella, 24, and Elizabeth Prestano are suing the Sunset Park hotel and its parent company, Choice Hotels International, claiming their employees lied about being fully booked because they didn’t want to accommodate a lesbian couple.

“It’s a shame that in 2015, not only in the United States, but within New York City, that something like this occurred,” the couple’s lawyer, Paul Liggieri, said.

“In today’s society we expect there to be accommodations for everyone, not just one particular type of person.”

Parisella and Prestano say in their lawsuit filed on Dec. 17 in Brooklyn Supreme Court that they entered the lobby of the Sleep Inn on 49th Street on Aug. 23, 2014. The lawsuit says that the two were clearly a lesbian couple not hiding their relationship.

“Upon entering the hotel and stepping into the lobby, the staff of the hotel glared at the plaintiffs with a look of repugnance and disgust,” the lawsuit says.

When the couple reached the front desk, hotel staff reluctantly asked how they could assist them, according to the lawsuit.

Parisella and Prestano say that when they requested a room for the evening, the Sleep Inn employees grew hostile and began whispering to one another. After looking at the hotel computer, the staff told the couple that they were fully booked, the lawsuit claims. 

But Parisella and Prestano called them out on it.

When they left the lobby, the couple phoned the hotel to inquire about a room. A hotel staffer said that they do have a room still available for the night, according to the lawsuit.

Parisella and Prestano went back into the lobby to confront the front desk about their lie, but were greeted with open hostility, the lawsuit says.

“They were a loving couple. They were just there for a room, and they were refused one,” Liggieri said.

The couple filed a complaint with the state Division of Human Rights in April. The agency said that probable cause existed to believe that Sleep Inn staff engaged in discriminatory practices, according to the lawsuit.

A spokesman for Sleep Inn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.