Baristas Bullied in Brooklyn?

If you think that claims of workplace bullying are limited to the big bad corporation, you might want to check out the story of Gorilla Coffee, a crunchy granola cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn, that had to close for 10 days following an en masse walkout of its staff in response to an allegedly bullying boss.

The cafe has reopened with mostly new baristas, after the story attracted attention from the New York Times, among other media outlets:

“We’re kind of just getting back to basics,” said one of the shop’s owners, Darleen Scherer, after receiving a warm welcome from customers and a cadre of new workers. “I said to everybody, ‘Let’s learn about coffee and do a good job and be happy.’ ”

Things were not so happy on April 9, when seven baristas, nearly the entire staff, quit over what they termed a “perpetually malicious, hostile and demeaning work environment” under [co-owner] Carol McLaughlin….

Ms. McLaughlin attributed the difficulties to an absence of communication and a clash of expectations. She said some workers had been put into leadership positions before they were ready.

“If they had made it clear that my coaching technique was not being received well, I could have changed it,” Ms. McLaughlin said, adding that some employees had chosen to stay.

News of the labor dispute broke a little over a week ago when an entire shift did not show up for work one morning.  Park Slope — where yours truly lived for 9 years back in the day — is a liberal, green-conscious (though now very expensive) community, so it attracted a quite a bit of local interest.

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