Our History

The Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York was initially founded in New York City by Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman after September 11th, 2001 to provide support to restaurant workers displaced as a result of the World Trade Center tragedy. Based on our successful efforts in New York City, restaurant workers in several other cities approached us about initiating ROC chapters in their cities. Thus, in 2008 we launched the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, which has grown into a national organization with 18,000 low-wage restaurant worker members in 15 states.

Since its founding, ROC United has won more than a dozen workplace justice campaigns, winning more than $10 million in misappropriated tips and wages and discrimination payments for low-wage workers, and significant policy changes in high-profile restaurant companies covering thousands of workers. We have played an instrumental role in winning several statewide minimum wage increases for tipped workers, and other policy campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels. ROC also partners with almost 200 responsible restaurant owners to promote the ‘high road’ to profitability, has trained more than 5,000 restaurant workers to advance to livable-wage jobs within the industry, and has published over 30 ground-breaking reports and a nationally bestselling book on the restaurant industry.