Six months after Tex-Mex eatery Salsa Fresca opened on 51 Broadway, three former employees are alleging the restaurant’s management discriminated against them because they are native English speakers.
Sasha Feliciano, Kevin Baykin and Brandon Crandall claimed Salsa Fresca practiced preferential treatment toward native Spanish-speaking employees and actively discriminated against those who were not. The allegations were first made public in a Jan. 28 article in The Politic, entitled “Behind the Glass: Salsa Fresca Workers Allege Unfair Treatment,” which was removed from the Politic website last weekend.
According to the article, Feliciano said she was made to work 19-hour shifts, while Crandall said he was dismissed after eating candy while at work. Feliciano, who now works at Campus Customs on the same block, said native English speakers at the restaurant were not paid as well as native Spanish speakers who worked the same number of hours. She said a group of Spanish-speaking employees openly mocked her in Spanish while at work. Feliciano also said that the restaurant’s management failed to promote her despite her demonstrated work ethic.
Baykin and Crandall, who have since begun working at Junzi Kitchen, corroborated Feliciano’s claims in The Politic. Both said that during their time at Salsa Fresca, they worked the same number of hours as their Spanish-speaking coworkers for less pay. Still, none of the three former employers have filed official claims of discrimination against the restaurant.
Baykin and Crandall declined to speak with the News about their time at Salsa Fresca, with Baykin noting that he would rather put his negative experience at Salsa Fresca behind him.
Feliciano told the News that the original article was removed from The Politic’s website because her attorney, Leo Ahern, contacted the author and said one part of it was libelous. The article had printed a quote from a Salsa Fresca manager that said Feliciano showed up to work drunk and often behaved irresponsibly.
Neither Feliciano’s attorney nor The Politic returned requests for comment. Ahern’s firm, which works out of an independent law practice, specializes in state and federal crime. Ahrens is working with Feliciano in regards to her claim that The Politic committed libel and not in connection with her allegations of labor discrimination at Salsa Fresca.
Representatives at the organization’s headquarters did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Salsa Fresca has six branches in New York and Connecticut and was founded in 2008.
Salsa Fresca was built in the lot that Educated Burgher — which closed in the summer of 2014 —formerly occupied.
Correction, Feb. 16: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Salsa Fresca was a Universities Properties tenant.