Mission Chinese in New York City is being sued by four former employees over alleged unpaid wages and for being a “hotbed of racial discrimination.” Eater reports that in said suit, former staffers claim that black people were treated poorly and that management retaliated against workers who spoke out against discriminatory behavior and poor working conditions. (The Daily Meal has requested a copy of the lawsuit from the plaintiffs’ attorney, Maimon Kirschenbaum.)
Chef-owner Danny Bowien and managers Jane Hem and Adrianna Varedi are reportedly named in the lawsuit, which the plaintiffs hope to make a class action.
“I purposely took [this job] because I was tired of working in hostile environments, with favoritism and verbal abuse,” ex-server and plaintiff Erin Lang told Eater. “This place was exactly that.”
Lang also told Eater that she was denied promotions and saw her shifts reduced because of her race. The suit reportedly alleges that Hem used racial language with her, saying she wouldn’t want to be with her “in a dark alley,” using “hip hop” slang, and saying that Lang’s dreadlocks looked like the “Grinch’s fingers.” According to Eater, the three other former employees on the suit did not personally experience racial discrimination, though they claim to have witnessed it — and then allegedly faced retaliation from management after taking their concerns to human resources.
Eater reported that the suit also alleges Mission Chinese paid less than the legal wage and deducted half-hour breaks from employees’ earnings despite not actually allowing such breaks.
In a statement to The Daily Meal, attorney Rob Ontell, who represents Mission Chinese, said: "In nearly a decade of operations, Mission Chinese restaurants have continually invested in our staff and their training to ensure we provide a culture of acceptance and opportunity. It is disheartening and frustrating that any former staff person would choose to file a suit based on this unwarranted and inaccurate description of our business practices."
The popular Lower East Side establishment at 171 East Broadway has a three-star rating on its Yelp page. The menu offers cold and hot appetizers, chef specialties (like kung pao pastrami, koji fried chicken, clams in black bean sauce), rice, noodles, vegetables, and family packages ranging from $45 to $99 per person.
For more legal disputes from the world of food, check out these restaurants and why they were sued.