Feds Say Medieval Times Retaliated Against Worker Who Spoke Up About Sexual Assault
Federal labor prosecutors have accused Medieval Times of retaliating against a worker who raised concerns about working conditions, including “the sexual assault of employees by customers,” according to a new complaint obtained by HuffPost.
A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board in Illinois issued the complaint against the dinner theater chain Monday. It alleges that Medieval Times interrogated workers at an Illinois castle about their union activity, illegally disciplined workers and fired the worker who spoke up about alleged sexual assault.
Workers at castles in New Jersey and Southern California unionized with the American Guild of Variety Artists last year. The labor board complaint accuses Medieval Times of “restraining” and “coercing” employees as they tried to exercise their collective-bargaining rights at a third castle, in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg. The company has nine locations across the U.S.
Medieval Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
By issuing the complaint, labor board officials have signaled that they looked into the union’s claims and found merit in them. Barring a settlement between the parties, the allegations will be litigated in a labor board hearing where both sides call witnesses.
The charges come on the heels of two other complaints that prosecutors lodged against the company: one that alleged Medieval Times management took part in an illegal scheme to undermine union support in California, and a second that alleged the company tried to illegally silence workers by getting their union TikTok account banned. (The former complaint has been settled, while the latter is set to go to trial next month.)
The complaint regarding the Illinois castle alleges that a worker shared his concerns about customers assaulting employees directly with the company’s chief executive, Perico Montaner. It said the company later gave the worker “more onerous working conditions,” disciplined him and then fired him in December.
Prosecutors accuse Medieval Times of taking those actions because the worker had spoken up about working conditions and because the company wanted to “discourage employees from engaging” in protected concerted activities.
When workers at Medieval Times went public with their union campaign last year, they told HuffPost that one of the reasons they wanted to organize was to create a safer workplace. They said that show cast members, including actors who play the queen character, are sometimes touched or grabbed by customers who’ve been drinking.
As one employee said at the time, “It feels like the customer experience so greatly outweighs not only our employee experience but our safety and our well-being.”
The union has accused Medieval Times of breaking the law repeatedly while trying to throttle the union campaign, including by trying to get the union’s social media accounts shut down.
Last year Medieval Times filed a lawsuit against the union, claiming that it had violated the company’s trademarks. The company alleged that the union’s adopted name, Medieval Times Performers United, and the medieval imagery of its logo had created “consumer confusion” around the Medieval Times brand. A judge recently tossed the company’s claim.
In a separate complaint issued Monday, a regional director for the NLRB in New Jersey alleged that the company’s trademark lawsuit was retaliatory and meant to prevent workers from speaking out, according to an NLRB spokesperson.