Guy Fieri is one of America’s most popular “foodies.” His show, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is one of the longest-running and most popular shows on the Food Network. That popularity has spawned his restaurants, which have served millions of customers in cities, resorts, and cruise ships.
One of Fieri’s eateries is just outside of Greensburg, Pa. in Hempfield. It sits inside of the “Live” Casino located there. Not many are complaining about the food or customer service. This week, however, former employees of Fieri decided it was time to take their other frustrations to the streets. They allege that his restaurant inside the casino is guilty of paying blacks a lower wage than white employees and racial harassment.
Nathaniel Ridley is one former employee who was excited to be part of the team at Guy Fieri’s Kitchen and Bar, which located inside the casino.
“I took the job because I’m a big Guy fan. I love the shows, I love his energy,” Ridley said.
Ridley said his experience in the kitchen went south in January when he claims a manager for the restaurant used a racial slur when confronting kitchen staff about music that was playing. (editors note: we will not be repeating that slur)
“It was just mind-blowing. He just stood there and he never said ‘I’m sorry,’ or showed any remorse,” Ridley said.
Ridley wasn’t alone in witnessing the event or hearing the slur. Another employee, Kendra Gillcrese said she witnessed it too.
“I was just shocked and I went home and was like, ‘did he really just say that?’” Gillcrese said.
Both Gillcrese and Ridley said the incident was reported to human resources, but absolutely nothing happened.
While he was waiting for something to happen with HR, Ridley made another finding — despite having 26 years of experience in the kitchen, he was being paid at least 2 dollars an hour less than his white co-workers with less experience doing the same job.
At that point, Ridley’s excitement and enthusiasm went out the window. He decided he couldn’t stay in the environment. He put in his two-week notice.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reached out to Live! Casino about these allegations. The casino responded with this statement:
“Live! Casino Pittsburgh and Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen + Bar are proud of the jobs we have created in Westmoreland County, are committed to our Team Members, and are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The allegation that our compensation varies by race is simply false,” a statement from a spokesperson at Live! Casion said.
Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 also reached out to a spokesperson for Guy Fieri’s restaurants but did not receive a response.
On Monday, a group of protesters including Ridley and Gillcrese rallied outside the casino to try to get their message out.
So far, no one is suing Guy Fieri, his restaurant, or the casino. A petition was created to try to persuade Fieri and the casino to do the right thing. The petition garnered 3200 signatures.
Specifically, this is what they are asking for:
—Raise wages of Black workers and provide back pay to compensate them for the unequal treatment.
—Implement mandatory racial sensitivity and equity training for management and staff at all Guy Fieri’s restaurants and Live! Casino.
—Acknowledge and review the working conditions not just at the Hempfield location but all Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar locations to ensure fair practices are being upheld.
The ball is now in the hands of Guy Fieri. The only question is if Fieri will step up and do the right thing. Or perhaps he thinks the rules should be different for minority Americans in “Flavortown.”