[This article includes updated information.]
The new Live! mini-casino in Westmoreland County has touted the presence of a Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar inside as one of its selling points, although the employee relations there have caused some headaches instead.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that accusations of racial discrimination at the restaurant led to a protest planned Monday afternoon in the parking lot outside the casino. The protest was being organized by the Restaurant Opportunity Center of Pennsylvania, a group that advocates to improve conditions for workers in the food service industry.
The newspaper said accusations had arisen that a restaurant manager used the N-word when telling an employee to turn music off and that the restaurant’s Black workers were being paid less than their white counterparts. Complaints have been taken to the casino’s human relations department without being resolved, according to the Restaurant Opportunity Center.
Petition drive is part of protest
A petition drive shows up on the group’s Facebook page alleging, “Although Black workers at Guy Fieri’s Kitchen & Bar Westmoreland have more professional experience, they are being paid LOWER WAGES than their white counterparts. This was brought to light following a recent racially charged incident, where a restaurant manager openly used the word “N****R” in front of several employees, while ordering a worker to turn off the music.”
The newspaper quoted a casino spokesman as indicating the restaurant manager who was involved in that complaint is no longer employed.
The group advocating for employees asserts in its petition that the pay among workers needs to be adjusted to end racial discrimination and that restaurant and casino management and staff need to receive racial sensitivity and equity training. News broadcasts late in the day Monday showed that about a dozen protesters, including two ex-employees raising the allegations, participated in a small rally in the parking lot near the casino.
Afterward, the casino issued a statement calling the claims of different pay scales “simply false.”
“Live! Casino Pittsburgh and Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar are proud of the jobs we have created in Westmoreland County, are committed to our team members, and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” the statement said.
Live! Pittsburgh, which is the name used for the mini-casino by its owner, Cordish Gaming Group, opened in November at Westmoreland Mall. It is the first of the state’s five mini-casinos to open and is a satellite of the larger Live! Philadelphia casino. The Guy Fieri’s restaurant, part of a chain run by the well-known TV personality, is one of its primary features in addition to slot machines and table games.