31-year old Janet Kim has filed a complaint through the New York State of Human Rights against “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmare” celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay — as well as Ramsay’s restaurant in the London NYC Hotel. The single mom, who works as a commis chef, alleges that her male colleagues sexually harassed her and mistreated her in a variety of ways.
Here are some of the “incendiary” allegations against the male chefs:
• According to the Daily Mail Reporter, workers referred to her derogatorily as “China” – hinting at racial and ethnic discrimination there.
• Chefs called her a whore and propositioned her for oral sex.
• Ms. Kim also alleges she was retaliated against by the kitchen staff members, who forced her to make tiny hors d’oeuvres in what her male colleagues called the “c**t corner.”
• In the wake of Ms. Kim’s accusations, many members of the staff — who were furious at her — walked out of the restaurant to protest her return.
Although Ramsay no longer owns the 2 star Michelin restaurant – he sold it back to its original owners – the fine dining establishment bears his name, and it gets a significant amount of business because of its association with his celebrity. The allegations of sexual harassment, racial harassment, and retaliation are particularly ironic, since one of Chef Ramsay’s most famous TV shows – Kitchen Nightmares – focused on rehabilitating restaurants in trouble.
According to the Daily Mail Reporter, “Ms. Kim felt the British Chef’s fiery television persona had rubbed off in her male colleagues, creating a ‘toxic environment’.” Her legal representative suggested that “she feels he is a celebrity who films the shows there [at the London]… where this type of environment [fiery and testosterone driven] is permitted and accepted.”
So far, both Gordon Ramsay’s spokespeople and LXR Luxury Resorts (the company which now owns the London NYC) have kept mum about the allegations.
Chef Ramsay is not the only celebrity restaurateur who’s recently been targeted with charges like wage and hour violations, sexual harassment, and retaliation. Far from it. But, just because you’re a celebrity who owns a business does not give you the right to mistreat your employees. Unfortunately, a kind of “culture of abuse” pervades many restaurants; especially, apparently, here in New York City.
Fortunately, victims have rights, and they have a lot of law on their side. If you or someone you care about has been subject to any kind of mistreatment at your restaurant or other work place, the powerful and resourceful team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum can provide a free and confidential consultation. Learn more about the firm at www.jhllp.com, or dial (212) 688-5640 to get a confidential consultation now.