Photo By Park Slope Lens
Brooklyn's Coffee War of 2010, which pit Gorilla Coffee against former employees and The New York Times, has finally been settled. We just received this breaking press release from Brandworkers International:
New York, NY- State Supreme Court Justice Wayne P. Saitta has dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Gorilla Coffee against a group of its former employees who spoke out regarding management's behavior at the company. After sustained attempts to improve what they viewed as a hostile work environment at the prominent Brooklyn-based cafe and coffee roaster, the workers caused a stir in the gourmet coffee community and in the news media by resigning their employment as a group and discussing their decision in a letter to the New York Times.
To refresh, back in April of 2010 every single Gorilla Coffee employee walked the fuck out, citing "a 'perpetually malicious, hostile, and demeaning work environment' under Carol McLaughlin, one of the two owners, and demanded that she withdraw from daily operations at the coffee bar." Because they had no staff, Gorilla closed their ass down for two weeks. Then the NY Times wrote an article about the incident and published a note from the staffers, which read in part:
We the workers would have preferred to keep this between the people involved, thus our silence towards the press. However, we do feel it is important to clarify the situation for the friends and patrons of Gorilla Coffee. The issues brought up with the owners of Gorilla Coffee yesterday are issues that they have been aware of for some time. These issues which have repeatedly been brushed aside and ignored have created a perpetually malicious, hostile, and demeaning work environment that was not only unhealthy, but also, as our actions have clearly shown, unworkable.
Then Gorilla Coffee was like, "Hey, former employees AND The NY Times -- Fuck you both!" and decided to sue them. But the former employees banned together and went all Twisted-Sister-We're-Not-Gonna'-Take-It on Gorilla. They teamed up with Brandworkers.org and superstar attorney Martin Garbus to fight the hell back. Today marks their victory!
"Anti-speech lawsuits like the one from Gorilla Coffee can have a dangerous chilling effect on the robust exchange of opinions in the public arena," said Martin Garbus. "The lawsuit had no merit and this victory is an important vindication of workers' First Amendment right to speak out in the news media."
Gorilla's former employees also expressed their glee in the press release:
"My co-workers and I did nothing but truthfully express our opinion regarding the lack of respect for employees at Gorilla Coffee," said Lee Harrison, a former worker at the cafe and a defendant in the dismissed lawsuit. "We are extremely happy to win the case and to send a message to coffee workers and all workers that you can stand up for your rights."