First John Besh, then Todd English, Mario Batali, and Ken Friedman. Now, Charlie Hallowell is the antagonist of the latest sexual harassment scandal in the restaurant industry.
Women, empowered to speak up, sought out justice when they denounced Chef Charlie Hallowell of sexual harassment.
Most recently, you may have seen celebrities share on their social media platforms posts referring to the Time’s Up movement. The open letter by 300 female professionals from the entertainment industry was in response to another open letter which was sent in solidarity with Hollywood actresses on behalf of 700,000 female farmworkers whom have also experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s a move towards fighting the “systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces nationwide,” reports “The New York Times.”
Sadly, sexual harassment cases continue to headline the news, especially in the restaurant industry.
After 17 former female employees came forward detailing years of sexual harassment and verbal abuse allegations in the workplace, Oakland Chef Charlie Hallowell decided to distance himself from his restaurant group, as reported by the “San Francisco Chronicle,” last week.
This is the latest sexual harassment scandal to hit the restaurant industry since renowned restaurateur Ken Friedman was accused by 10 staff members of his West Village NYC restaurant, The Spotted Pig, earlier last month.
In an open letter shared with the Bay Area News Group, Hallowell admitted that his conduct as a business owner was “unfiltered and often completely inappropriate.”
“For this I am filled with shame and have deep regret for the damage I have caused,” wrote the chef.
Hallowell’s workers from all three of his restaurants— including, Pizzaiolo, Boot & Shoe Service and Penrose— expressed a poor work environment rampant of sexual references and unwelcomed behavior by the chef-owner.
Jessica Moncada, a former Boot & Shoe bartender told the “San Francisco Chronicle,” “It was just this constant need to talk about sex or anything sexual.” She recalls Hallowell saying, “If a pizza dough is formed properly, it should feel like a fat girl’s tit,” for example.
In another instance, a former employee, Molly Surbridge, alleged she was promised a promotion after working as a server for two years. The day she was presenting her proposal for a wine program with hopes to become a wine buyer at Penrose, she was cut off mid-sentence by Hallowell.
“He told me that he really wanted to have sex with me,” Surbridge told “San Francisco Chronicle.” “And that he just wanted to make sure I knew that.”
His advances were ignored by Surbridge and she never got her promotion.
Just like in the John Besh sexual harassment scandal, Hollowell’s restaurant group has never had a human resources department or a person who staff members could confide in and report misconduct to within the company.
“We are working with legal counsel and an HR consultant to create and implement company-wide policies and procedures to better equip the company to handle these sensitive matters. Additionally, the company is retaining an outside, independent investigative attorney to come and perform a full investigation,” wrote Hallowell in the “open letter.”
Learn more at at the “San Francisco Chronicle.”
Check out this episode of The Baron Report below to learn how to correct company culture to address sexual harassment, from Human Resources Guru Carrie Luxem!