The Great Hall
need advice about a work place situation The Great Hall: need advice about a work place situation
By Pastrystudent (Pastrystudent) on Monday, January 09, 2006 - 12:06 am: Edit

I am a 25-year-old pastry cook (female)and work in a great restaurant. I have been working there for the past six months and have loved every minute of it and the people I work with. Except tonight, I was in the pastry kitchen finishing up for the night when the sous chef came in to tell me that all the customers have gone for the night and then grabbed me and kissed me. I pushed him off of me and walked away.
I donít know what to do. He and I were friends before this. Do I rip him a new one? Let it slide this time? Im scared to tell my chef because they are friends and he has been there for years and I only six months. I love my job and donít want to lose it. Nor do I want to be known as a trouble maker. Im really confused and would really appreciate any advice anyone can give. Thank you

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Monday, January 09, 2006 - 12:22 am: Edit

If he does it again, complain to whoever your supervisor is, the owner if the chef you mention isn't the owner/chef.

You can't be dismissed for complaining about the sexual harrasment of another worker in the establishment. Although he isn't likely to be dismissed either for a one off incident so there will be the comfort of still working together issue.

Ignoring the situation wont make it go away, you could tell him yourself you're not interested and if he persists or takes it a higher level, starts calling your house or etc then involve the police.

The chef isn't going to want negative publicity of an investigation into claims his sous chef is harrassing other chefs.

I dont think anyone would consider you a trouble maker in terms of a bad reputation. It's case of a male abusing his more senior position over you which isn't acceptable.

The best case scenario is that you tell him to leave you alone and he decides to do so.

But for it to go away you will need to take action.

By Kinglear (Kinglear) on Monday, January 09, 2006 - 03:43 pm: Edit

Why not just be direct with the guy and say something like "While your expression of your regard for me is flattering, I think it would be best if we keep our relationship on a professional level." If he pursues his advances, then complain, but meanwhile, keep a small tape recorder in your pocket running.
Seems that all he did was take a chance and make a pass at you. If this becomes a pattern of behavior, then you have a problem to take to your boss.

By Laprise (Laprise) on Monday, January 09, 2006 - 04:19 pm: Edit

Both great advice, also what you have to keep in mind is a record of this need to be done somewhere.
What I mean by that is simply to tell someone trusworthy at work. Not a collegue, but maybe a fron of the house person.
The problem is that if this keeps hapenning you need to be a able to have a record of his behavior.

I would also talk to him and make sure that he is over it. It's one thing if he had a thing for you, but it's another if this is just to mess with you and his power...

If you have a feeling that he is messing with his power, I would book an apointment with CHEF, him, an impartial witness and you to clear the air...

People date in the kitchen all the time, but people cannot abuse their power...

Martin Laprise
Author of " My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Monday, January 09, 2006 - 10:16 pm: Edit

Hereís a personal anecdote: One guy used to come up behind me and poke me in the sides with his fingers while I was on the line. Fire, hot oil, boiling water... Dangerous, right? I'd squeal & jump, out of reflex, and he & his friends would laugh. The chef never noticed. One time when he did it, I kept myself from squealing and yelled out, ďG0dd@mn it, Carlos, keep your ɵ¢king hands off me!Ē The chef came over, I told him what happened, he pulled Carlos aside, he made Carlos apologize, and that was the last time anyone at that place touched me inappropriately.

Real advice in my next post.

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Monday, January 09, 2006 - 10:28 pm: Edit

I come from an HR background, so I offer you this:

Start looking for a new job.

Donít like that? Well, then hereís an alternative:

You need to write a letter to him saying what happened, that you didn't want it to happen, and that you don't want it to happen again. Be really specific. Dates, times, witnesses, what you said, what he said, etc. By the way, don't apologize, or explain it away as there must have been some misunderstanding, and donít be wishy-washy about it.

Yes, put it in writing. And do this NOW, before he tries it again so that you'll have to rebuff him again. Then send a copy to your supervisor to put in your file. No matter how lax management is, there has got to be some kind of file somewhere.

While you can't get fired for complaining about the sexual harrasment, you might get fired for something else... anything else...for rocking the boat.

Whether or not you have an employee handbook or formal employee policies, if you don't formally complain about it to whoever your supervisor is, and you DO get fired for something, you can't go back and say that you were harassed. Plus if your restaurant does have policies, a well-written harassment policy (from the companyís perspective, anyway) will basically say that if you donít report it, it never happened. That way the company canít be held responsible for something it didnít know about.

If you handle this NOW, and do it with specifics and with professionalism, you're protecting yourself when-and-if it happens again. You'll have some documentation.

Look at it this way: if you handle it professionally, the best that can happen is that you will earn some respect. The worst that can happen is that he and/or others will keep bothering you, and you quit. If you quit on your own accord you don't get unemployment, but if you quit a hostile work environment, you might.

You should keep this in mind, though: If you do nothing, nothing's going to change.

So, with that in mind...Do you want to quit or get fired?

By Laprise (Laprise) on Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - 12:28 pm: Edit

great stuff Chefjoannam, I do agree, the best thing would be to look around for possibly a new job or a new department depending of the size of your kitchen.

Do something for sure, and Paper Record is a must...

I unsderstand, it's not like he rapped you right!? wrong, it's all about crossing the line... which he did... I dated many girl from the kitchen, I even met my wife while she was my assistant. But I would have never kissed anyone at work, you wait until you are at the bar later that night. BUT never at work, expecially if he is your boss... That is such a stupid move on his part. I can't imagine him being such a great boss!

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Friday, January 13, 2006 - 07:01 pm: Edit

A kiss is just a kiss....except when it comes from a person in a postion of power over you or your job. Then it is sexual harassment and it should be reported to the Chef. He deserves the right to know whats going on in his kitchen by his second in command. As well as the chance to fix it. If he doesn't then the question is does he deserve you continued loyalty and hard work.
I think the sous is the one that needs to start looking for a new job, if indeed he abused his power or postion. I have been on both sides of the sexual harassment issue, the accused and the one responsible for setting the standard in my kitchen. Both times I was more that willing to set the record straight.

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 04:22 am: Edit

Yes, CookingFresh, in an ideal world, the owner would be well informed, the chef would be outraged that his friend the sous would act inappropriately toward the pastry girl, and the sous would be out on his ass, and run out of town.

But, until the world becomes ideal, we must deal with reality. And in this case, the chef and the sous are buddies - that's why I said PastryStudent should consider her days numbered wth that restaurant.

P. S. How have you resolved the problem, PastryStudent?

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 03:36 pm: Edit

chefjoannam, does it have to be a perfect world for each of us to stand up for what is right individually? The only way for an owner to well informed is to keep them informed, and is there really room for friendship in the cheffing business? As chef said in Kitchen Confidental, there will come a time when it comes down to your butt of mine and it will be your butt. Maybe this is your butt time. And as I said if he backs the sous maybe she should examine her trust and loyalty to this chef.

By Pastrystudent (Pastrystudent) on Sunday, January 15, 2006 - 11:48 pm: Edit

Firstly thank you, every one who took the time to help me. The advice given is invaluable. The resolution to the situation was a good one. I spoke to the head of the pastry department (my chef) and her assistant. Both of them stand behind me completely in what ever action I take . I wrote down what happened and have a copy. I spoke to the sous chef; If you can call it talking. Pretty much what I said is not too polite but it got my feelings on the matter across and he is courteous now. And much to my delight keeps his distance.
The only bad aspect of this is, I was informed that I am the fourth employee he has tried this with and the only one to still be working there. Which leads me to another question. I feel I am in a good position. Should I leave well enough alone? Or do I keep pressing the matter? Again thank you.
Pastry Student

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 03:18 am: Edit

If your still comfortable working there and he leaves you alone from now on and there havent been any subtle negative actions taken against you by the head chef then yes stay there.

I find it quite strange he's been allowed to do that four times and still has a position there, surely the head chef would've told him by the third time to stop conducting himself in such an unprofessional manner. Especially seeing as he is in a senior position there's no room for that kind of conduct.

I dont know what your establishments policies relating to these kind of issues are but surely a fourth complaint about simillar behaviour should result in some form of offical repremand.

But if he stays away from you, and no one makes it hard for you to work there in any way and you enjoy the job then yes stay there.

If it becomes uncomfortable or etc for some reason, then it would be best to start looking for a new job.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 11:06 am: Edit

Fourth Time! You have hit the jack pot. Get a Lawyer.
Preditors like that need to be shut down. The managment that enables them need to be taught a lesson, a very expensive lesson.

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 04:36 pm: Edit

i agree with Cheftim, if in fact the other times have been documented and not just what others have heard you should get a lawyer and sue.

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 05:13 am: Edit

You'll have hit the jackpot, but you better hope you get enough to live on. Or I hope you have other career ideas, if you sue them you could kiss the chance of working in another place again goodbye.

"So why did you leave your last job?"
*Well I sued them, and they had to close up and sell off the business to cover my payout and the legal fees*
"I see..."

That's about as good as accepting a beer during an interview and word will spread, you won�t be able to get away from it.

Yes something needs to be done about it, but you don�t deserve money. The most reasonable action to be taken would be to fire the sous chef, but give you money, what next, cash payouts and days off for cuts and burns?

In any case you need a real legal reason to sue in the first, loss of income, medical bills or so forth. Unless it was so stressful you had to see a psychiatrist then there isn't much you can sue for. A judge will put a value on what your there for and an attempt to kiss you, if it was me, it'd be valued at nothing and you would be paying the court costs.

It isn�t even a civil court matter to begin with. It's a criminal matter at most.

Ridiculous litigious society we live in today.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 02:41 pm: Edit

Truthfully, I'm not advocating running out a getting a lawyer for this one incident. It's was just a gut reaction to those suggesting Pastrystudent let this serial molester run her out of her job.

If management doesn't act and reprisals are take against her then yes ultimately it is a civil court matter.

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 03:01 pm: Edit

There is more reson to sue than just the monetary aspect. Apparently the owners and chef do not get that there is a problem in their midst and sometimes the only way to get attention to a problem is litagation. As far a whether its civil or criminal would be decided by local law. Here in the Great State of Texas the mere grabbing and kissing would constitute assult, probably only a class c misdomenor. But he would face a fine and establish a record. As far as a ligitious society,that is the proper way to handle disagrements. Let an impartial judge decide how we are to conduct ourselves in a civilized society.

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 03:36 pm: Edit

let's take a quick peek at the facts:

1. This is a young girl in a new job.
2. the sous is a friend of the chef
3. This is the 4th instance at least.
4. the chef already knows & has done nothing

She has many options:
Knee the guy in the balls next time
(the next time is inevitable...unless...
refer to my 1/9 10:16 pm post)
grin and bear it the next and following times
(but this may suck the life out of you)
Grab his nuts & squeeze like they're key limes
(Those are some tough little suckers)
file a suit
(risking job/reputation/personal finances)
Get the restaurant ton of negative publicity
(Newspaper? Oprah? ...risks reputation)
get out and start fresh at a new company.

In your shoes, I'd choose the first or the last.

OTOH, I'd be happy to work for any of the men on this thread who are suggesting you litigate. They are probably not spontaneous kissers or ass grabbers... or if they are, they're very, very wealthy.

Kenneth, Tim, Grant, Biff, All evidently fine gentlemen... but you and I seem to be the only chicks in on this discussion, and I dare say we have a different perspective.

By Pegasus (Pegasus) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 05:31 pm: Edit

Ultimately the proper outcome would be that the sous gets the axe. But this isn't a perfect world so that's unlikely.

From the last post of pastry student, the sous is leaving her alone and if that's the case and working there isn't being made uncomfortable by him or anyone else on the staff then I see no reason to leave.

I wouldn't push the issue with the head chef, if he's taken no action after 3 times, then he either doesn't care or encourages it when they go out drinkng.

I wouldn't bring the courts into it either, just keep working at this place as long as it is comfortable for you there, if it's not then start looking for another job.

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 05:49 pm: Edit

pastrystudent, I hope we have offered some of our thoughts to inspire you, give you hope, encourage you and show that there are still someplaces that care. I wish you hadn't had to go through this but you know what they say" if it doesn't kill you it will make you stronger".
To chefjoannam, you are right we are looking at it as men and our perspective is askew, I hadn't really considered the difference until you pointed it out.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 06:42 pm: Edit

I've grabbed my share, spontaneity is what makes it fun. Making sure you have permission first is the trick.

Chefjoannam your right, I can't see this issue from your's and Pastrystudent's point of view. I don't have the equipment.

I have seen from my angle, I find it ugly and I want to drive a stake through the heart of the testosterone poisoned bastards that perpetuate this bullshit. I think sexism, in the kitchen or anywhere else, is as bad as any other kind of ism and to end it, it must be confronted.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 10:53 pm: Edit

Umm, before some of us get a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease, can we move on to other topics?

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - 08:42 am: Edit

This will be a personal decision from you!
You know the circumstances, can you live with it???
Remember, if you get a lawyer the witnesses will have to testify to the facts (and lose their jobs in the process,Im sure) will they?????
Make sure you (your attorney) can substantiate the allegations, if not you are wasting your time and reputation in the business.
On the other hand there was this woman named Loretta Bobbit,......well just Google her name!!!!...I'm sure you have sharper tools then she used!

By Ilpro (Ilpro) on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - 11:51 pm: Edit

Oh my......

Guess I am a little late for this thread.

At the club we insist that the staff report any accidents and innapropriate behaviour immediatley. In fact we consider it insubordination to not report such an incident. You would think it should be the same everywhere.

Like someone else said: Nothing can happen without it being reported.

Best of luck.


By Pastrystudent (Pastrystudent) on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 01:20 am: Edit

I donít think a legal fight will be a good idea in this case. While thinking long and hard with out hurt feelings the fact of the matter is if I made a stink about it I would lose my job and sue the restaurant and never work in this industry again. Even if I wanted to bring a case against the sous chef, noone who was there will give me any names of the three other instances of this. It might as well be gossip.

This is not the first time this has happened to a women nor will it be the last. And honestly I wish I could do some thing so this, ahem, never pulls some thing like this again. But itís a small world and I do want to work in other restaurants. This is a no win situation. So Im going to look out for my self and my career.

Again thank you every one for taking the time to help me.


By Tortesrus (Tortesrus) on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 10:24 am: Edit

One last suggestion pastry student-
Instead of direct action that will have a negative effect on your job- next time that
s.*.b. or anyone kisses you against your will, shudder, make a face, wipe your mouth with your hand, and make a gagging sound. I'm sure his fragile ego wouldn't want to go through that sort of obvious rebuff again. He may get antagonistic towards you- but if you are doing a good job and are an asset to the company- the exec. chef should be looking at that aspect, not at invalid complaints from the sous chef.

By Cookingfresh (Cookingfresh) on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 07:25 pm: Edit

Life imatates Art - even as we speak I just learned from a friend, a young lady in another restaurant in town that she was similarly assulted by the sous chef at the restaurant she worked. She complained to the upper management, only to find out that her job was being phased out, going in a new direction they say. She is seeking legal consul. I hope she wins, if not for the money at least for her own sence of justice.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 11:18 pm: Edit

Something about this thread I just don't understand: Almost every post mentions sue, Why?

If the Sous had pawed, groped or worse, caused bodily harm, prevented you from working or enjoying life, then I'd say sue for all you can. But he didn't. Stupid jerk had enough sense to keep his hands to himself, but not enough brains to do it with a reciprocatee, or out of the work place. A slap in the face or a knee to his privates would be in order. But sue? You sure you want to deal with lawyers? And if you actually got money awarded, would you feel right accepting it? And the employer would bear more responsibilty in the suit than the kissing Sous, the kissing Sous would go right on kissing untill someone's b/f took matters into their own hands...

There is an other option, the Labour Board. Secure another job first, then file a complaint. They will investigate, they will make a fuss, but there won't be any lawyers or courts involved. Worth looking into?

By Ilpro (Ilpro) on Saturday, January 21, 2006 - 10:30 am: Edit

If this issue was to be taken to the Labor Board in Illinois there would definatley be an investigation and a court appearance. And yes there would be attormeys present. If the company was found negligent I do not think the Sous Chef would easily find another job.

The action that took place is serious and does deserve a law suit although I understand why some people would prefer to avoid that long and drawn out drama of a court room. A law suite would force the Sous Chef on the stand to answer for his actions. It is hard to say how he will conduct himself in a court room. If arrogant he will be doomed. Although if he is smart, suave and lies it may go in his favor unless there are eye witnesses.

The pain and suffering that Pastrystudent is going through right here is evidence that something should be done. Some people are content with an appology and at the very least the Sous Chef should receive a written reprimand.

Any employer who condones such a hostile work envirnment does not deserve to be in business. In most states such action is also considered illegal and you can be arrested for it. You can not put your hands on another individual like that legally. Charges could still be pressed.

I am glad this has not happened to my wife. At 6' and 265lbs I am not so sure I would just let my wife drop the issue. This crap really gets me fired up. There ya go... Maybe us guys from the forum can go rough the sous chef up a bit for ya..... Just joking!!!

I do hope you can find peace after this issue.


By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Thursday, February 23, 2006 - 09:25 pm: Edit

I hope that your case has been resolved satisfactorily. You are not alone. Another young lady faced a similar situation in the U.S. Army.

Kayla Williams wrote in LOVE MY RIFLE MORE THAN YOU YOUNG AND FEMALE IN THE U.S. ARMY (pp.208-10):

"The next morning I'm writing in my journal about the incident with Rivers when he appears.
'Listen, Kayla,' he says, all sheepish. Looking anywhere but at me. 'I apologize. I was totally out of line back there. I hope there are no hard feelings. It was dumb, and it was wrong. So I hope you can, you know, accept my apology on this.'
And just like that, he's gone again.
This throws me even more. I have all this righteous anger built up. And--wham! An apology? It feels like cheating. Like: This guy steps way over the line, and now he gets to be able to have it all just go away. Because he's sorry?
But I'm thinking: He did apologize. Maybe he understood. Maybe he gets it. So I do not bring up the Rivers incident with anyone right away.
For one thing I have to assume that if it comes right down to it, guys would all back him. As somebody on their team, in their unit, in their MOS[Military Occupational Specialty].
One of the boys.
If I am to force this issue--if I am to ask them to be loyal to Rivers or be loyal to me--what might happen? I have to imagine which way that would go. This sucks.
As much as the Army would like to tell us that it's not true, girls who file EO (equal opportunity) complaints are treated badly. Even if your chain of command encourages females to file sexual harassment claims--to stand up about these kinds of incidents--in reality, they are discouraged. Technically, if you read the EO regulations, you can file an EO complaint in the Army if you are offended by just about anything. Like somebody telling a dirty joke. If it offends you, you can file a complaint about it.
Needless to say guys do not like girls who file EO complaints. They will talk •••• about them. They will not want to be around them more than is absolutely necessary.
Even girls don't like girls who file EO complaints--they don't want to rock the boat. Girls don't want to be perceived as filing a frivolous complaint. There's still the assumption that girls lie about harassment to get what they want--to advance their careers or to punish somebody they dislike.
So it's very risky. You don't want to be perceived as overreacting.
But what Rivers did was not like telling a dirty joke. I can and will put up with a lot. I do put with a lot. I am very understanding about a lot of male behavior. I know these guys are under tremendous pressure. They are in a rough environment. They are away from their lover, their family, and everything they know--for a long time. So am I, and I know it isn't easy on any of us. And I don't want to pursue an investigation and risk ruining someone's career under these circumstances. Plus, to be honest, I am afraid that if I do file a complaint, Rivers would tell on me for drinking alcohol. Turn it around. Get me in trouble if I get him in trouble.
You hear all kinds of stories. I hear this one story about some girls in the Navy who came forward about being raped. Then they got into trouble because they were drinking when it happened. And they were underage. And so they're the ones who ended up getting punished. Though this only came out because they had come forward about being sexually assaulted. Which is the bigger crime? But that's what happened..."

By Andapanda (Andapanda) on Friday, February 24, 2006 - 04:43 pm: Edit

Typographical error.
The sentence should have read: "I do put up with a lot."

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