Ellen’s Stardust Diner accused of violating labor laws after newly unionized employees fired

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TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan — A famous Times Square diner is accused of violating federal labor laws.

Meg Doherty, a longtime server at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, said she was fired Tuesday.

“It’s singing and serving milkshakes in a war zone,” Doherty said.

The diner is known for its singing servers. They belt out Broadway tunes while they work.

Many of the servers have been there for years. A few weeks ago some of them formed a union called Stardust Family United.

The servers told PIX11 News, 10 people were fired this week. Abby Burke lost her job Wednesday.

“I asked them if it was about the union and they said no but it’s pretty convenient because I worked here for 8 years,” Burke said.

The servers who remain employed said they went on a singing strike Wednesday during lunch to support their former coworkers.

“Today was the day that we finally enough. And we decided we had to do something,” server Tara Minoge said.

The Ellen’s Stardust Diner owner Ken Sturm issued a statement to PIX11.

“Like all employers, we at times terminate employees for any number of reasons. We want to be clear that these recent terminations were for valid reasons, which were clearly explained to the employees in question, and have absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s union activity. All of our actions have been perfectly appropriate and allowable under federal labor laws,” said Sturm.

The servers who talked to PIX11 said the owner hired new management recently and there is now a hostile work environment.

Plus, the longtime scheduling flexibility is gone, making it hard for the performers to book shows.

The union members said they organized because they want respect.

Their lawyer filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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