Culture

Mission Chinese Is Being Sued for Racial Discrimination

Workers describe the restaurant as a toxic ‘hotbed of racial discrimination'
Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Mission Chinese, New York's celebrated Chinese resto, is being sued by a group of former employees for racial discrimination and unpaid wages, Eater reports. The suit names the restaurant's managers, Jane Hem and Adrianna Varedi, in addition to chef and owner Danny Bowien, the star of the most recent season of The Mind of a Chef.

The employees allege the restaurant was a "hotbed of racial discrimination," where Latinos were referred to as "wetbacks" waiting to be deported and where, in one case, a black kitchen worker was burned with a spoon dipped in hot oil. The plaintiffs are also claiming that Hem and Varedi withheld promotions and shifts from African American employees. According to the employees, after they met with human resources to discuss the issues, Hem and Varedi worsened the work environment to "downright nasty behavior."

Mission Chinese is also being sued for wage holding: Staffers assert that half-hour breaks were deducted from their pay, even though they weren't allowed to take breaks lasting more than a few minutes. They also claim that they were being paid the tipped minimum despite spending a significant amount of their shifts doing work that didn't earn tips.

Eater notes the Lower East Side spot has long had a reputation as being a "progressive, hip, and queer utopia," and a "liberal bastion in the restaurant world," an image cultivated by Bowien himself. However, the restaurateur is also being named in the suit, as staffers state he was well aware of the discrimination and wage-holding practices, yet did nothing.

Read the whole story on Eater.

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