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Legal expert responds to Tom Kitchin’s staff bullying claims

The famous chef has suspended two members of staff following allegations of bullying, violence and sexual assault in his restaurants.


Allegations of bullying, violence and sexual assault within Scottish chef Tom Kitchin’s restaurants have hit headlines.


The famous chef, who is the owner of Michelin-starred restaurant The Kitchin and gastropub Scran and Scallie, has since been forced to suspend two members of staff after former workers made the claims in June.


According to the BBC, one worker alleged that a chef burnt a woman’s arm with a hot tray, while another stated that staff were often punched if they were not fast enough.


Peter Southcott, managing director of Kitchin Group, said: “Following allegations of unacceptable behaviour, two senior members of staff have been suspended whilst these claims are fully and independently investigated. We will not hesitate to take whatever action may be necessary,” reported The Times.


Anonymous claims appeared on an Instagram page, where users described “toxic” behaviour, violence and incidents of sexual assault.


Additional claims were then made to the Guardian and Times, where mental health issues were described as a result of the experiences within the restaurants.


Following the allegations, Kitchin stated that the venues can be “high-pressure, frenetic and challenging” where “emotions often run high”. However, he pointed out that the business would “remedy” instances if it had “fallen short”.


Effects of bullying at work

Within the workplace, the onus falls on the employer or manager to do all they can to prevent and stop bullying, harassment, discrimination and victimisation.


Guidance on Acas also supports this and stated that employers have a duty of care to look after the wellbeing of employees. It added: “By law, you must do everything you reasonably can to protect staff from harassment, discrimination and victimisation.”


Reward Strategy also spoke to employment lawyer, Karen Holden, chief executive officer (CEO) of A City Law Firm, who shared that “swift action is paramount” when it comes to claims of bullying.


“For an employer, as soon as instances of bullying are brought to your attention, swift action is paramount to avoid negative internal and external publicity. If you handle reports swiftly and justly, you will secure staff confidence,” she claimed.


Holden pointed out that if it isn’t handled quickly then a business can face negative repercussions when it comes to its employer brand in the future, which can impact staff retention and hiring in the future.


She added: “However, if bullying is left unchecked, this leads to a negative impact on your culture, retention rates and attractiveness to future staff. Negligently handling a claim of bullying will also leave you liable to a plethora of legal action, such as claims of harassment and constructive dismissal.”

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