Celebrity Chefs Dealing With Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on June 28, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Sexual harassment is not a new thing in professional kitchens and when employees fight back things can get ugly.

The long hours, the hot environment, and the demanding work can be a recipe for tension that gets played out in verbal combat. Without a clear harassment policy or a human resources office to deal with complaints, inter-office spats can quickly get out of hand.

Paula Deen is currently dealing with a suit from a former employee, alleging years of harassment while working in Deen's kitchen.

She's not the only chef to deal with these kinds of claims. Test your memory on some of the more memorable lawsuits for sexual harassment involving celebrity chefs.

1. Just a few months ago in February 2012 Rick Moonen, the Las Vegas restaurateur, was slapped with a suit for sexual harassment by two former bartenders.

The women claimed that the general manager had made inappropriate sexual comments and done some unwanted touching. When the women complained, they claim they were fired.

Just because the Top Chef Master's alum wasn't personally involved in the harassment doesn't mean he gets off scot-free. As an employer he is potentially liable for actions taken by his employees while they're working.

2. Everyone loves to hate Gordon Ramsey. Janet Kim actually took action against Ramsey for his famously over-the-top behavior.

She filed a complaint alleging that the male staff in a previous Ramsey restaurant named Commis harassed her and propositioned her for sex while she was working as a chef.

Her claim didn't allege that Ramsey was involved in the harassment, according to The Indian Express. But she did claim that his cutting and critical attitude created a hostile work environment which contributed to harassment.

3. It was back in 2009 but Food Network's Anne Burrell had some serious allegations of sexual harassment made against her.

Female employees claimed that Burrell made derogatory comments about their breasts and clothing, even when wearing the required uniform.

They claimed that male employees were not treated the same way and that they were fired for complaining. If true, this disparate treatment of female employees would likely constitute sex discrimination.

Chefs may not set out clear sexual harassment policies for their restaurants and who knows if they have an HR office tucked away in the back of the kitchen. But if celebrity chefs want to avoid future lawsuits, it's certainly something to consider.

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