The dinner-theater chain Medieval Times broke the law repeatedly as it tried to stop a union organizing campaign at its New Jersey castle last year, according to a complaint issued Monday by the National Labor Relations Board.
The agency’s general counsel alleges that the company illegally fired a union supporter, withheld raises from workers who had unionized, and sought to have the union’s TikTok account banned by the social media platform in an apparent effort to muzzle employees.
The charges directly implicate Medieval Times’ chief executive, Perico Montaner, who has fought the organizing campaign from the start.
The complaint alleges Montaner “threatened” that non-union workers at Medieval Times’ other castles would not receive raises because the New Jersey workers had petitioned for a union. According to the complaint, Montaner issued this threat while addressing workers inside the castle’s Hall of Aragon around May 2022.
The general counsel also says Montaner reached out to TikTok to have the union’s account shut down for allegedly infringing on Medieval Times’ trademarks, as HuffPost first reported. Workers had adopted the moniker Medieval Times Performers United — a name the company claimed created brand confusion in a lawsuit it later filed against the union, the American Guild of Variety Artists.
The union maintains that seeking the ban was retaliation for speaking out and embarrassing the company on social media as workers tried to improve working conditions. The complaint shows that the labor board’s general counsel agrees with the union that having the account shut down violated employees’ rights.
Medieval Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the charges Tuesday.
Workers strike at Medieval Times' castle in Buena Park, California. The labor board's general counsel has accused the company of violating the law in both California and New Jersey.
The labor board has scheduled a hearing on the charges for Nov. 7, when both sides would present witnesses for testimony.
In the complaint, the general counsel says that Medieval Times should have to offer reinstatement and backpay to the fired worker — Chris Lucas, an actor who played Lord Cedric in Medieval Times shows — and that Montaner should have to write Lucas a letter of apology. The general counsel is also seeking an order requiring the company to “cease and desist” from alleged unfair labor practices detailed in the document.
Workers at the castle in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, were Medieval Times’ first to unionize last year, when the knights, squires, stablehands and show cast voted to join the American Guild of Variety Artists. They were soon followed by their counterparts at the company’s Southern California castle. Medieval Times has nine castles in the U.S. and one in Canada.
Workers in New Jersey and California previously told HuffPost that they hoped a union could raise wages and improve safety at a surprisingly dangerous job. The castles in those states are now trying to bargain first contracts with the company. Workers at the California castle, in Buena Park, have been on strike since February, accusing the company of illegal retaliation.
Monday’s complaint is not the first time that labor board prosecutors have accused Medieval Times of illegal union-busting. In May, the general counsel filed a complaint against the company in California saying management there tried to get workers to withdraw their support for the union, which would be illegal.