RESTAURANT OPPORTUNITIES CENTERS UNITED JOINS AS KEY PLAINTIFF IN SUING TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OVER EMOLUMENTS VIOLATION

Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is proud to announce that it has joined a lawsuit filed by the Center for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) against the Trump Administration for its blatant violation of the foreign emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Administration’s conflicts of interest are glaring and dangerous. As a hotel and restaurant owner, the President puts restaurateurs and restaurant workers nationwide at a disadvantage, pushing foreign dignitaries and governments to patronize his establishments over others.

“As a national restaurateur with restaurants in hotels in NY, Florida, and Las Vegas, and as a proud member of RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards Everywhere), I am proud and supportive that ROC United, RAISE’s parent organization, has joined the lawsuit holding Mr. Trump accountable for emoluments violations,” said restaurateur, celebrity chef, and founder of Crafted Hospitality Tom Colicchio.

President Trump’s current ability to profit from his role as President is clearly a constitutional violation; the President is banned by the U.S. Constitution from receiving payments from foreign governments. Furthermore, restaurant owners and workers would be harmed by the loss of income, wages, and tips that occur if foreign dignitaries choose Trump establishments over others. ROC United thus joins this lawsuit on behalf of its nearly 25,000 worker members and over 200 restaurant members impacted by this conflict of interest.

ROC United Co-Founder and Co-Director, Saru Jayaraman stated:

The Trump Administration’s conflicts of interest do direct harm to ROC United and to the millions of Americans — workers, employers, and allied consumers — our organization represents. We need a President who puts the success and security of the American people ahead of his own financial interests and those of his fellow elites. What’s more, we need an administration that follows the Constitution. ROC United demands one fair wage — the elimination of the lower wage for tipped workers — and justice for restaurateurs and America’s 12 million restaurant workers. ROC United’s restaurant worker members and RAISE member restaurants will definitely be harmed due to Trump’s emoluments violation, and that is why we stand with CREW as a plaintiff in this lawsuit.

GET INVOLVED NOW: We hope you are as excited as we are to join in this important effort to protect our members and the American people from the Trump Administration’s ongoing corruption.  If you’d like to donate to the effort, please donate at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/rocaction

LEARN MORE ABOUT ROC UNITED SUING TRUMP

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED? We hope you are as excited as we are to join in this important effort to protect our members and the American people from the Trump Administration’s ongoing corruption.  If you’d like to donate to the effort, please donate at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/rocaction (this link goes to an external website).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 18, 2017

Contacts:

Sian Lewis, sian@rocunited.org, (202) 601-3999

RESTAURANT OPPORTUNITIES CENTERS UNITED JOINS AS KEY PLAINTIFF IN FOREIGN EMOLUMENTS CLAUSE VIOLATION LAWSUIT AGAINST THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION

Prominent restaurants owners Danny Meyer, Tom Colicchio, James Mallios, Alice Waters, Paul Saginaw and others support ROC United suit against Trump for hurting the restaurant industry

NEW YORK, NY—Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United is proud to announce that it has joined a lawsuit filed by the Center for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) against the Trump Administration for its blatant violation of the foreign emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Administration’s conflicts of interest are glaring and dangerous. As a hotel and restaurant owner, the President puts restaurateurs and restaurant workers nationwide at a grave disadvantage, pushing foreign dignitaries to patronize his establishments rather than go to others.

President Trump’s current ability to profit from his role as President is clearly a constitutional violation; the President is banned by the U.S. Constitution from receiving payments from foreign governments. Furthermore, restaurant owners and workers are harmed by the loss of income, wages, and tips that occurs when foreign dignitaries choose Trump establishments over their own. ROC United thus joins this lawsuit on behalf of its nearly 25,000 worker members and over 200 restaurant members impacted by this conflict of interest.

WHO: Restaurant Opportunities Centers United

WHAT: ROC United Joins as Plaintiff in Emolument Violation Lawsuit Against Trump Administration

WHEN: Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WHY: As an organization comprised of nearly 25,000  restaurant workers and more than 200 restaurant employers from across the country, ROC United is acutely aware of and directly impacted by the Trump Administration’s conduct. Establishments once patronized by foreign dignitaries will see those consumers choose Trump-owned businesses instead to curry favor with the administration. As a result, restaurant workers, including ROC United members, stand to lose income and tips. This also leaves restaurateurs and hoteliers at an unfair disadvantage. Employer members of ROC United—including high-profile restaurateurs like Tom Colicchio of the Craft Hospitality Group, James Mallios of Amali Restaurant – are concerned their businesses will suffer from the loss of such clientele. These and other members of ROC United’s national restaurant association RAISE, such as high-profile restaurateurs Alice Waters and Paul Saginaw of Zingerman’s feel this is not just unfair, it is unconstitutional.

‘We admire ROC and support their mission which aligns directly with our passionate belief that caring for our employees first is not just good business, but the very best way to care for our guests and serve our communities,” said Danny Meyer of the Union Square Hospitality Group.

“As a national restaurateur with restaurants in hotels in NY, Florida, and Las Vegas, and as a proud member of RAISE (Restaurants Advancing Industry Standards in Employment), I am proud and supportive  that ROC United, RAISE’s parent organization, has joined the lawsuit holding Mr. Trump accountable for emoluments violations,” said restaurateur, celebrity chef, and founder of Crafted Hospitality Tom Colicchio.

“As a restaurateur in Midtown, we frequently host foreign dignitaries for dinner and events. There is no question in my mind that foreign companies, countries, and individuals will feel compelled or advantaged by choosing Trump establishments over our own.  While I always expected to compete against the best restaurants in the toughest restaurant market in the world, I never thought I would have to compete against the pecuniary interests of the President of the United States.,” says Amali NYC restaurateur James Mallios. See video of James Mallios’ statement at www.rocunited.org/rocvtrump.

“I’m so pleased that ROC United has joined this suit. Though I am not a plaintiff, I am an interested business owner and citizen activist who wholeheartedly supports this bipartisan effort to compel the President to comply with ethical business practices according to the Constitution of the United States of America. As a proud member of RAISE I have the opportunity to protect my rights while helping other restaurant owners, support workers and stand up for all of my fellow Americans,” says celebrity chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in California. See video of Alice Waters’ statement at www.rocunited.org/rocvtrump.

“As a restaurateur, I am at a competitive disadvantage because foreign entities are compelled to use Trump establishments. I am losing potential business because my customers are using Trump properties instead of mine. It’s not right. That’s why I’m standing with ROC United to call the President out for this violation,” says Paul Saginaw, owner and operator of the Zingerman’s Community of Restaurants. See video of Paul Saginaw’s statement at www.rocunited.org/rocvtrump.

The impact of the Trump Administration’s unconstitutional business dealings is just one piece of a larger Trump agenda that hurts America’s restaurant workers. The Administration is in lockstep with the National Restaurant Association, which has for decades worked to keep industry wages low and workplace conditions poor. This includes support for the unjust subminimum wage system, in which tipped workers make as little as $2.13 per hour at the federal level. That and other harmful policies are espoused by both of President Trump’s Labor Secretary nominees, Andy Puzder and Alexander Acosta. ROC has led the resistance to the Trump agenda through its campaign for One Fair Wage — the elimination of the lower wage for tipped workers — its condemnation of the nominations of both Puzder and Acosta, and its leadership and avid support for the Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day. ROC United’s resistance continues with the filing of this important lawsuit.

ROC United joins Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as a plaintiff in the lawsuit. CREW is a bipartisan group that initially sued Trump. “We would’ve liked to be dropping our case because the president got in line with the Constitution,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said, “instead, the violations we anticipated when we brought our case became much more concrete.”

ROC United Co-Founder and Co-Director, Saru Jayaraman said, “The Trump Administration’s conflicts of interest do direct harm to ROC United and to the millions of Americans—workers, employers, and allied consumers—our organization represents. We need a President who puts the success and security of the American people ahead of his own financial interests and those of his fellow elites. What’s more, we need an administration that follows the law. ROC United demands one fair wage – the elimination of the lower wage for tipped workers – and justice for restaurateurs and America’s 12 million restaurant workers. Restaurant workers and restaurant employers will be harmed due to Trump’s emoluments clause violation, and that is why we stand with CREW as a plaintiff in this lawsuit.”

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ABOUT RESTAURANT OPPORTUNITIES CENTERS UNITED

Co-founded by leading workers’ rights advocates Fekkak Mamdouh and Saru Jayaraman (“One of the top 50 most influential people in the restaurant industry” – Nation’s Restaurant News), ROC United (www.rocunited.org) has nearly 25,000 worker members, more than 200 restaurant employer members (www.raiserestaurants.org), and several thousand consumer members (www.dinersunited.org) nationwide, winning over 15 worker-led campaigns, and recovering $10 million in stolen tips and wages. Read more about raising wages in the restaurant industry in Saru Jayaraman’s new book Forked: A New Standard for American Dining at forkedthebook.com. www.rocunited.org @rocunited #rocunited #1fairwage

MEDIA COVERAGE

Find videos of high-profile restaurateurs that support ROC United’s lawsuit against the Trump administration for constitutional violations of the emoluments clause.

Alice Waters, celebrity chef and activist

James Mallios, chef and lawyer

WHAT ARE THE FOREIGN EMOLUMENT CLAUSES? The Foreign Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution prohibit the President, and other federal officials, from receiving anything of value from foreign governments, including foreign government-owned businesses, without the approval of Congress. It ensures that government officials act in the interest of the American people, not foreign governments.  The Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which applies only to the president, prevents the president from taking payments or things of value beyond his/her salary from the federal government or any of the states.  It is intended to ensure that the president does not favor some states over others, or the federal government over the states, based on payments or benefits that he might receive. The Emoluments Clause of the Constitution provides that no government official “shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The founding fathers inserted this clause into the Constitution to prevent any foreign influence from corrupting or infiltrating the United States government. Last month, the nonprofit organization Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (“CREW”) filed a lawsuit against President Trump for violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The lawsuit alleges that President Trump unlawfully receives payments from foreign governments when their diplomats stay at Trump hotels, play at Trump golf courses, lease space from Trump office buildings, or otherwise purchase services from the President’s company.

WHAT CONSTITUTES A VIOLATION? Because President Trump declined to divest from his businesses, he is now receiving cash and favors from foreign governments, through guests and events at his hotels and their restaurants, leases in his buildings, and valuable trademarks and real estate deals abroad. These are all in violation of the Constitution. 

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? That means the same person who is sitting at the bargaining table with these very countries representing Americans is also, simultaneously, a business executive who is making money from those countries.  Americans rely on the president to negotiate the best possible trade agreements and make tax, regulatory, and foreign policy decisions that will help them.  If he is instead doing everything he can to protect his own profits, he may make decisions that benefit those countries, rather than American workers, consumers, and businesses.  A lawsuit to put a halt to the president’s illegal foreign payments is a first step toward putting a stop to this threat to American interests.  

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE LAWSUIT IS SUCCESSFUL? A successful lawsuit will compel the president to stop accepting improper foreign and domestic emoluments.  In practice, this will likely force the president to sell his businesses, cutting off the massive web of corruption that currently infects the administration and hurts the interests of Americans.  

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT RESTAURANTEURS AND RESTAURANT WORKERS? Because foreign governments will steer business to the president’s hotels and restaurants, and because state governments and the federal government will give favorable treatment to these businesses, competitor restaurants, like many of yours, are likely to lose business. Workers at competitor restaurants will lose hours and job security.  

WHY DID ROC UNITED JOIN THE LAWSUIT?  ROC United was asked to join this lawsuit because of the way in which ROC members are uniquely harmed by the President’s actions. If the President looks out for his own business interests rather than the interests of Americans in determining trade policy and other policies, many of ROC’s members will suffer. ROC’s worker and employer members will lose income and tips if foreign dignitaries feel compelled to use Trump establishments rather than their own. All of this makes it appropriate for us to join this case and makes the outcome of the case important to us.

HOW DID THIS LAWSUIT ORIGINATE? The lawsuit was originally brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), an organization dedicated to promoting ethics in government and reducing the influence of money in politics.  CREW is also an appropriate organization to sue because the president’s serious constitutional violations have forced the group to divert resources away from its usual, important work promoting ethics at all levels of government to deal with this crisis. The case is in federal court in the Southern District of New York before Judge Ronnie Abrams.

WHO IS ON THE TEAM OF LAWYERS? CREW and ROC are being represented by a bipartisan team of all-star team of top constitutional scholars, ethics experts, and litigators. That team, which is litigating the case pro bono, includes:

  • Norm Eisen: Former Special Counsel for Ethics and Government Reform for President Obama; former ambassador to the Czech Republic; chair of CREW
  • Richard Painter: Former chief ethics lawyer to President George W. Bush; professor of law at University of Minnesota
  • Laurence Tribe: Harvard Law School professor and constitutional scholar; co-founder of American Constitution Society
  • Erwin Chemerinsky: Dean of the Law School at University of California (Irvine) and constitutional scholar
  • Zephyr Teachout: Professor of Law at Fordham University; former National Director of the Sunlight Foundation
  • The award-winning law firm of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which is comprised of 90 lawyers that hold powerful corporations accountable for violating the law and harming individuals, small businesses and public entities.
  • The law firm of Gupta Wessler, which specializes in practicing law before the Supreme Court of the United States and has particular expertise in litigating violations of the Constitution.

WHAT DOES ROC UNITED GET OUT OF IT? The lawsuit is a historic opportunity to challenge the President’s violations of the Constitution. Those constitutional violations not only undermine the national security of our country but also harm restaurants and hotels hoping to compete with Trump properties on a level playing field.

HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED? We hope you are as excited as we are to join in this important effort to protect our members and the American people from the Trump Administration’s ongoing corruption.  If you’d like to donate to the effort, please donate at https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/rocaction