I just moved and am settling back in to the frantic pace and physical work of a restaurant job. For all the flaws my previous job through AmeriCorps had (and there were many), if nothing else I could trust to work in an environment where I did not have to fear casual misogyny.
Tonight one of our chefs made a joke about gang rape. A few of the other male members of the kitchen staff laughed. When I asked the chef why he repeated a joke that wasn’t funny and he said he repeated it because it’s funny.
I spoke with him again about half an hour later when he was not busy and I told him, “Even joking, can you please not make rape jokes? That made me very uncomfortable.” He said, “Heard”, responding in standard restaurant protocol.
I don’t think he understood why his joke was grossly inappropriate. And I need to take responsibility for the fact that I approached the situation the wrong way. I statements only go so far. By framing my point as “the joke made me uncomfortable” I put the issue as focused on me. Meaning: he can make this type of joke again so long as I’m not able to hear him. Meaning: it was my perception and my filter; someone else might not take offense.
Me speaking to the chef twice didn’t resolve the issue. The issue is company culture and whether I feel safe and respected as a female employee. I cannot trust someone who finds gang rape something to joke about. But in restaurant hierarchy, he’s basically my immediate boss. I’m way at the bottom as a busser/serving assistant. And I’ve been at this job for not even a week.
I’m planning to send an email out to a manager or an HR staff member tomorrow about the situation. My ultimate hope is that instead of a punitive measure enacted on the chef, we can have some type of diversity training for the entire staff and a greater conversation on how we behave in the back of the house (where guests cannot see).
Does anyone have any thoughts or advice on how best to approach my email to management? I do not know what is the most professional way to handle the situation. I do not want to call out the chef and get him in trouble. I do not want to sit down with him and management to have a conversation because I believe the issue is broader than his joke and my reaction.
Has anyone had any success in calling out a supervisor or superior? Please let me know. I want to do this as professionally as possible to have the greatest impact on our restaurant’s culture. Thank you for your help!