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Sixty-Five Street Restaurant v. ROC-NY (Defending advocacy group’s right to protest outside Manhattan restaurant)

This case involves the protesting activities of a workers rights group and their harm to a restaurant business. In May and June 2006, the members of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-NY) engaged in protesting activities outside Sixty-Five Street Restaurant (“Restaurant Daniel”). They were protesting in order to bring awareness to the fact that the owner of Restaurant Daniel, Daniel Boulud, was involved in a lawsuit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC action started in response to a number of complaints from members of ROC-NY who worked at Restaurant Daniel. The members claimed that Boulud had discriminated against them and refused to promote them because of their race. The protestors’ actions consisted of encouraging passersby and potential patrons not to enter the restaurant because the restaurant engaged in employment discrimination and illegal wage practices. Boulud had first interacted with the protestors when they delivered a letter to him on Oct. 7, 2005, accusing him of illegal employment practices. ROC-NY’s negotiations with Boulud were unsuccessful, and ROC-NY continued to protest outside of Daniel.

On June 15, 2006, Restaurant Daniel filed a complaint alleging that the restaurant had suffered as a result of the protests. The complaint sought damages and an order enjoining defendants from further protests outside the restaurant. On Aug. 28, 2006, the NYCLU, in support of the defendants, filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs failed to state an adequate cause of action that merited relief. The motion to dismiss was denied, and the case entered discovery. On July 30, 2007, Restaurant Daniel reached a settlement with the EEOC. Boulud agreed to change his promotion policy and train his managers in racial sensitivity. The consent decree also addressed Boulud’s lawsuit against ROC-NY; in exchange for a promise not to protest outside of Restaurant Daniel for at least five years, the lawsuit was dismissed. 

State Supreme Court, County of New York, Index No. 602114-06 (direct) 

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