February 29th: Miami Capital Grille workers have turned up the heat at their restaurant. Tired of racial discrimination, hostile treatment, and wage theft, these workers, along with the support of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and community allies, have joined the growing national movement for “Dignity at Darden” – calling on Darden Restaurants, the world’s largest full-service casual dining company and owner of the fine dining Capital Grille chain, to ensure fair, healthy, and safe workplaces.
Today, the original litigation filed on January 31st with the claims of New York City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. area Capital Grille workers was amended to add Miami and Los Angeles workers as well as additional New York City and Chicago workers, making Miami the 5th major city to join the “Dignity at Darden” campaign. Miami and Los Angeles Capital Grille workers share claims with workers in other cities of alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage and hour laws.
“The restaurant industry in predicting record growth this year with unprecedented sales of over $630 billion dollars. Last year, Darden Restaurants, which is headquartered right next door in Orlando, Florida, made over $7 billion in sales,” said Jean Souffrant, Coordinator of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Miami, “This incredible growth, though, cannot come on the backs of workers – the industry cannot rely on poverty wages, discrimination, verbal and physical abuse, and a lack of paid sick days to fuel their expansion.”
To mark the launch of their campaign, yesterday evening over 60 workers and ROCUnited supporters from Jobs with Justice, One Miami, South Florida AFL-CIO, Occupy Miami, Miami Worker Center, and Power U Center for Social Change walked into the Miami Capital Grille during the busy dinner service and read a demand letter to the manager citing workers allegations of discrimination – being denied equal opportunity to obtain adequate training and promotions from within – wage theft, and hostile work environment. Maurose Frantz, a current dishwasher at the restaurant said, “Haitian workers at The Capital Grille Miami need to support each other because we do not get the respect we deserve. We are pressured to come in sick to work, our hours are reduced drastically without any explanation, and some are even clocked out by management before they’re done working! I’m taking a stand for my people and all Capital Grille workers who are not treated fairly.”