Former chef at Westmoreland on line casino restaurant alleges racial discrimination and harassment

A former line chef at Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar filed a lawsuit with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, saying he was at the popular Live! Subject to racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Pittsburgh Casino on Westmoreland Mall.

At a protest in the mall’s parking lot on Monday, East Pittsburgh, 46-year-old Nate Ridley said he was one of the first employees to be hired at the restaurant last fall and helped open the facility. Ridley, who is black, said he left after management failed to respond to his complaints about a manager’s use of a racial fraud and later learned he was making $ 13 an hour than a less experienced white employee was making $ 15 earned per hour.

Representatives from the Pennsylvania Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-PA), a grassroots empowerment organization, and a handful of supporters joined Ridley to protest his treatment and petition the restaurant management with 3,200 signatures. In their petition submitted last month, the management of the restaurant and Live! Casino to:

• Raise the wages of black workers and pay them back to compensate for the inequality of treatment.

• Perform in all of Guy Fieri’s restaurants and Live! Casino.

• Acknowledge and review working conditions not just at the Hempfield location but at all Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar locations to ensure fair practices are followed.

Ridley’s complaint comes about because of the staff shortage in restaurants in the area. These bottlenecks resulted in weekday closings at some low-staffed restaurants, a variety of help signposts, and the offer of a Route 30 chain to receive a $ 400 signing bonus and $ 14 hourly wages for new hires.

“Low wages, poor or no performance, and racial discrimination have long been a problem in this industry, especially in the pandemic where workers were expected to stand up for very low wages,” the ROC spokeswoman said -PA Bobbi Linskens said.

Guy Fieri and Live! Casino did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Ridley’s complaints.

Ridley, who has 28 years of experience in the food service industry, said he now works as a line chef at an Allegheny County country club and “earns more than I got paid here.”

He said he was excited to go to work at the Hempfield Restaurant when he was hired late last fall.

“I’m a big fan of Guy. I’ve seen all of his shows. I took my resume to a recruitment fair and asked for more money, but they told me they all started at the same rate. Then I found out that white workers with less experience were paid more, ”said Ridley.

He said things started going south in January when a disgruntled manager yelled at another employee to turn his music down and use a racist pejorative.

“The day it happened, he stood right in front of me and said the ‘N word’ and never said he was sorry. He said it so easily, like asking about a side of the ranch, ”said Ridley.

Another former employee of the restaurant, Kendra Gillcrese, said she saw her boss use the term.

Ridley said he reported the incident to the restaurant’s human relations manager along with his two-week notice. He said he has since learned that the manager is no longer working at the restaurant.

Ridley and Gillcrese said they signed up with representatives from ROC-PA in hopes that others would not be subject to such conditions at work.

Deb Erdley is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209,, or on Twitter.

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