I’m fascinated by the Sunday Mirror’s story about a kitchen porter’s claims that he suffered racial harassment and discrimination, religious discrimination and victimisation at Gordon Ramsay’s flagship restaurant in Chelsea.
The paper quoted a friend of Ramsay’s as saying:
“Gordon employs more than 1,000 people of all nationalities. He spends a fortune sponsoring youngsters who want to be chefs through the Gordon Ramsay Scholarship Programme. It is a real hot-house in a kitchen and people shout and swear all the time – but he would never tolerate racism.”
This is a fair comment. The commercial kitchen has to be the most testosterone-charged of workplaces, as well as one of the most racially diverse, and banter goes with the territory. As for Gordon himself, he has forged a hugely successful TV career out of being a foul-mouthed genius of the kitchen, but his abuse is blind to colour and creed – he’ll tell anyone to f**k off out of his kitchen.
The question, then, is this: when does banter go too far? And can employers ever hope to keep it within the boundaries of acceptability?
Let me know what you think.