Chef John Besh’s restaurant group is under scrutiny due to sexual harassment claims by 25 female workers.
Today, in an email from Shannon White, now the CEO of Besh Restaurant Group (BRG), it was announced Besh is "stepping down" to focus fully on his family, according to “The New York Times.”
Besh, known for promoting New Orleans cuisine through his twelve acclaimed restaurants, is making headlines for what many current and former BRG employees claim is a “bro culture” throughout the organization.
Nine woman agreed to have their names published and go on the record declaring that they were victims of sexual harassment while working for BRG, according to an investigation by "NOLA.com" and "The Times-Picayune” released over the weekend.
In a complaint filed by Lindsey Reynolds, with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the company’s former social media manager said "vulgar and offensive comments, aggressive unwelcomed touching and sexual advances were condoned and sometimes even encouraged by managers and supervisors" at BRG.
According to “NOLA.com" and "The Times-Picayune,” Reynolds “resigned in February because the "rampant sexual misbehavior and harassment by the owners and managers of BRG had become unbearable," her complaint said. "There was no human resources person available, only other supervisors who were either afraid of losing their jobs or saw no benefit in challenging the good old boys club."
Reynolds claims are just one example of numerous other testimonies made by other women.
"We have learned recently that a number of women in our company feel that we have not had a clear mechanism in place to allow them to voice concerns about receiving the respect they deserve on the job. I want to assure all of our employees that if even a single person feels this way, it is one person too many and that ends now,” said Raymond Landry, BRG’s General Counsel, in a statement.
It turns out it wasn’t until earlier this month that BRG hired a director of human resources to provide the proper support to process such sexual harassment claims, said a company’s spokesman.
In a separate statement, Besh expressed his regret to having a consensual affair with a female employee and his plans to rebuild his marriage. "I alone am entirely responsible for my moral failings. This is not the way the head of a company like ours should have acted, let alone a husband and father. But it should not taint our incredible team of more than 1,000 employees, nor undermine our unyielding commitment to treating everyone with respect and dignity, regardless of gender, race, age and sexual preference," said Besh.
There are other allegations tied to other executives like Octavio Mantilla, co-owner of BRG.