Last night a group of protestors targeted the Front Room on the Hill for the seventh time. The protest occurred during dinnertime – starting shortly after 6:30 pm. The protest organized by the Regional Opportunities Center of Maine took place quietly outside. Meanwhile, diners inside the packed and noisy restaurant appeared oblivious to the protestors.
In early January, “ROC” filed a lawsuit against the Front Room in the US District Court here in Portland. Generally, the lawsuit calls for improved business practices by Chef Harding Smith who has been accused of: “violating ‘tip sharing” laws’, failing to inform employees of the tip credit, failing to compensate employees for all hours worked; failing to pay hours worked beyond forty at the overtime rate, taking a tip credit against wages for non tipped work, failing to provide statutory breaks from work and by failing to withhold taxes,” according to the complaint filed on January 6th.
Spokesperson for the protest last night was Genet Gebrewahd. She emphasized that this protest was not a boycott, but simply an attempt to get Chef Smith to practice better business practices on behalf of his employees. It’s expected that the matter will go to court by the end of this year if Chef Smith continues to refuse to meet with the ROC.
Chef Smith has maintained his innocence on the charges since the start.