Mar-a-Lago chef says he was fired for calling out sexual harassment

HR told him he was let go because the resort was losing money because charities had cancelled their plans to host events there
January 30, 2019, 4:51pm
Mar-a-Lago chef says he was fired for calling out sexual harassment

A pastry chef who worked for President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club has sued the Florida resort, alleging he was fired after trying to stop managers from sexually harassing young women.

In a lawsuit filed in a state judicial circuit court last week, Graham Randall alleges that he complained to the human resources department that two of his married superiors were sending unwanted sexual text messages to two 20-something women who worked at the club, including, at one point, a message that asked one woman to show her breasts to one of the managers. Randall then participated in a sexual harassment investigation involving the managers.

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They eventually received written reprimands but kept their jobs because Randall had told an HR manager that the alleged behavior was “out of character” for the managers, according to the lawsuit, which also names the managers as defendants.

Six months later, in late October 2017, the managers laid Randall off from his job as executive pastry chef, which he’d held since 2012, the lawsuit alleges. They purportedly told him that the club was losing money because charities had cancelled their plans to host events at Mar-a-Lago.

More than a dozen charities cancelled on Mar-a-Lago after Trump said in August 2017 that there were “fine people” among the attendees of the infamous white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the planned removal of a statue of a Confederate general. One of those people, James Fields, was eventually convicted of killing Heather Heyer when he rammed his car into a crowd.

However, in his lawsuit, Graham contends that Mar-a-Lago has “profited immensely from President Donald J. Trump’s election.”

“While some charities initially canceled events at Mar-a-Lago, this loss has been made up by other income flowing into the Club,” the lawsuit alleges. Randall now wants more than $15,000 in damages, including lost wages, humiliation, and mental anguish.

Shortly after Trump’s election, Mar-a-Lago doubled its membership fees to $200,000. The for-profit club also submitted applications to hire 78 foreign employees last July. Last year, it submitted applications for 70 foreign workers.

Trump has sought to limit immigration over the course of his presidency, in an effort to ensure that Americans have jobs. In asking to hire foreign workers, his club is claiming that it can’t find willing, qualified Americans to hold jobs as cooks, waiters, and housekeepers.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Trump Organization called Randall’s claims “completely without merit.”

“We look forward to presenting the truth and defeating the ridiculous claims,” the spokesperson added.

Cover: Nov. 24, 2017, file photo shows President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)