Multiple workers at an Olive Garden located in the heart of Times Square have filed charges of race- and gender-based discrimination against Darden Restaurants, Inc. at the state’s Human Rights Division and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
According to People, one employee named Adam Jones, self-described as “an African-American, gay man” alleges that he had witnessed a “hostile work environment” and racial discrimination at the Times Square Olive Garden dating back to September 2008, when he began working at the restaurant. Darden, the restaurant’s parent company, denies all of the allegations.
Jones alleged that he and his fellow Black coworkers “are consistently denied the preferential treatment granted to non-Black workers,” such as the opportunity for advancement, more desirable work shifts, being assigned as servers to the “best tables” and more.
Jones claims he voiced concerns to management late last year and started to see correction, but that changed when he was furloughed in March due to Covid-19.
“In or around September 30, 2020, the restaurant began selecting some people to return to work once the restaurant was allowed to run at a limited capacity,” Jones writes, alleging, “Who was chosen to return to work was not based on seniority or experience. Only a few Black workers were selected to return.”
In a statement refuting the allegations, Darden Restaurants claims these are “baseless” allegations.
“Darden is a values-based company built on a culture of integrity and fairness, respect and caring, and a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion,” they said. “We have an industry-leading team member experience. Across our brands, tipped team members earn, on average, more than $20 per hour. We have one of the lowest hourly turnover rates in the industry — 50% better than the industry average.”