My second post of the year is for a lady who has raised the issue of racial profiling in a Pret shop in Manhatten, NY. She contacted Pret, and after a few times did get a response, but then keeps getting ignored again since months.
Of course, at this point it’s an allegation, but no-one who makes up stories would pursue this for months. And from experience having worked at Pret, I know for a fact that there is racism in Pret, also toward staff. I mention this because some come with the bullcrap “argument” that these are only allegations and no proof. I can only implore journalists again to go undercover into Pret and see for themselves!
I send her a link to CEO Pano Christou’s Linkedin post on Facebook, she posted on Linkedin as well now (see below). But so far no response again.
Pano Christou closed his Twitter account on 01. July 2019 after I tweeted to the press about Clive Schlee’s “retirement” and also mentioned Pano’s Twitter account. He then promptly deleted it and now “hides” on Linkedin where people tell each other sweet little nothings all day, and how awesome Pano is, while Pret shops lie in shambles!
Journalists read my blog, so I offered her to put her concerns on my blog. Her message to Pano on Linkedin which they still leave in, usually they delete critical posts:
»On August 30, 2021 I was racially profiled in one of your locations in Manhattan New York 47th & 6th street. I went through the proper channels and emailed customer service. As of this date December 23,2021 I have not gotten a phone call or any type of gesture apologizing. I have been in contact with someone but nothing has been done. I emailed them yesterday and my email came back blocked so I use two other emails address and they came back blocked. The first Rep was Elle Reference #10091595. I don’t want to discuss in details what happened on the platform but if I have to I will. You can check into this matter and get back with me ASAP.«
And having worked at Pret for 10 years and visited Pret’s London Head Offices many times, I rarely saw Black, Indian/Asian staff working there. Most are Caucasian British, German, French with very few exceptions. The same with OPs/area and shop managers.
Pret’s response via Facebook (Shanee sent this to me). Pret AGAIN claims to have some technical difficulty, pretending they didn’t get the message.
I ask again like I did in my other post about Pret’s ongoing “technical issues” while having received a “digital technology leaders award”:
Question: How can a multi-billion £$ company have THAT MANY technical issues for so long?
Anwser: they don’t have technical issues, they’re just lying again!
Pret’s response on Facebook while continuing to ignore the complaint onracial profiling AGAIN. Shanee has the her emails as proof she sent it:
“Hi Shanee, We’re sorry to hear that your original message has not yet been resolved. We’ve asked our team to see if they’ve received your emails so they can get back to you as soon as possible. We’re also currently working to resolve a tech issue that sends an “undeliverable” message even when the emails are delivered. This is likely what happened when you tried to email our team this week.”
Also, a Twitter feed of a customer experiencing racism in a Pret shop:
Former Pret staff after Pret made their PR stunt BLM message and always make big noisy charity announcement:
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post. An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret. I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
At the bottom of this page I highlight a few things that I also experienced in Pret’s bullying environment. I link to the full 19 page court document of this lawsuit.
In light of the police violence and the death of George Floyd, sparking worldwide anti-racism protests, some former Pret staff speak out on social media on Pret’s Black Lives Matter posts. The below Tweets are only those they care to post, not having checked Facebook, Instagram etc. The problem is bigger than meets the eye.
There are countless more reviews and complaints on various platforms along the lines of racism, slavery, favouritism, discrimination etc., not just on Glassdoor and Indeed. But I just stumbled across a 2012 article by The Voice of two black employees who are very specific in describing their experience. And their experience sounds very familiar of the systemic bullying environment in Pret A Manger. The claim that Pret treated them as “slaves” is a very common complaint on Review sites and YouTube etc.
I’m aware that these are alleged accounts of Ms Battle. But I want to highlight a few things from my own experience with Pret and what I witnessed with colleagues. Please take the time to read the above 19 page court document. It really shows the systemic culture and hostile work environment which includes subtle bullying. Ms Battle’s experience though shows how hostile shops in the U.S. are, and many U.S. reviews keep saying the same thing over the years of favouritism, racism, bullying.
I want to highlight as well, that in the shops where I worked I never heard the N-Word, but I witnessed subtle racism and backbiting. As a Team Leader I always immediately spoke out against any form of discrimination against race, gender, sexual orientation etc. My colleagues knew that I won’t tolerate any form of discrimination. But there was always the subtle type of racism where a colleague for example complained about another Team Member and always felt the need to mention that they were Black. My response was “Why do you need to mention that they’re Black?” With that I never heard any more subtle comments from those who made mentioned like this. My Teams knew that I would not tolerate ANY form of discrimination.
I also was contacted a few months ago by a then current Pret employee from the U.S. who complained to me about their shop mainly employing Hispanic workers. I immediately spoke up that I won’t accept racism. In hindsight as well, this may have been a mention of the 60 Broad St New York shop that Ms Battle from the lawsuit here worked at. But I don’t know this. And as the person kept ranting about Hispanic staff, I blocked them. Unfortunately I didn’t do a screenshot of the complaint, even though that complaint may still be there as it was made publicly on MY Facebook feed. But for the life of me, I can’t find it due to having blocked and can’t remember the Facebook account of the person! Oh well …
Page 6 of PDF document, point # 20: “[Manager] Ramos also accepted and normalized the use of the N-word by Team Members.” My comment: That’s why this became so aggressively rampant in several shops.
Page7 , point 23: “Despite her complaint to Ramos, Plaintiff’s coworkers and supervisors continued to use racial slurs in her presence on a regular basis.” Very typical Pret A Manger that complaints fall on deaf ears.
Page 8, point 25: “After Plaintiff explained to her coworkers that she was offended by their use of racial slurs, they began to use it even more frequently in her presence.”
Yep, also typical in Pret. You raise an issue, and they do it even more.
Page 9, point 30: “Ramos [Manager] did not discipline the Team Member for her use of racial slurs.”
Again, very typical Pret.
Page 9, point 31: “Ramos initially cut Plaintiff’s hours below 30 per week in or around January 2018. When Plaintiff complained to Ramos that he had cut her hours below full time, he told her it was just for that week. Then it happened again the next week and the week after that.”
This is a CLASSICAL bullying tactic. Cutting hours down, no matter if the contracted hours are higher, and initially just saying that this would be temporary. I had that many, many times in Pret. One Manager even cut a whole week to ZERO, and that DURING the Christmas period in 2017 shortly after my dad came out of his coma! It is a classical attempt to make employees resign in desperation to leave this toxic environment.
Page 9, point 32: “Plaintiff was also harassed and discriminated against in many smaller ways that cumulatively degraded the conditions of her employment. Another African American coworker named Destiny suffered many of these same indignities. By way of example, Plaintiff and Destiny were ordered by supervisors, usually Ramos, to take out the garbage a disproportionate number of times. This was especially remarkable because female workers at 60 Broad were not usually tasked with dragging the heavy trash bags to the garbage dump. Seeing Plaintiff dragging these bags to the garbage dump, the garbage man asked her, “What are you doing back here? I never heard of them sending a female to do garbage pickup.””
Bullying takes on many different forms including subtle harassment and unfavourable treatment being sent to do menial or degrading tasks repeatedly. I was ordered by a Manager once when I was the Team Leader IN FRONT of a 16 year old apprentice to stock up bananas!
Now I stocked up bananas, I cleaned the toilets and got my hands dirty as a Team Leader like everyone else. My colleagues knew that I didn’t shy away from menial tasks and that it was important to me that we worked as a Team and that if I as the Team Leader can clean the toilets, they can after some tried to talk themselves out of certain jobs. SO, doing these “menial” tasks wasn’t an issue for me whatsoever. But what this GM did was to systematically bully in very subtle ways, in front of others, in this case a 16 year old apprentice. It’s a classical bullying strategy as well, especially since this GM knew how hard I worked and how well I lead the Team for us to work together like clockwork and as a strong Team where no-one is more important than the other.
This Manager would do that with anyone he disliked or was upset with for whatever reason, not just with me. He would order us to do menial tasks and ordered this in front of staff. These were very subtle and passive aggressive bullying tactics, just to humiliate especially staff who were in position of leadership.
Page 9, points 33 & 34: “On orders from Rosario and Ramos, Plaintiff and Destiny also made a disproportionate amount of deliveries during the winter when the weather was cold and it was snowing. … With reference to the menial tasks given to Plaintiff, a Team Member named Jasmine asked Plaintiff, “Why are they asking one person to do everything?””
Page 10, point 37: “The N -word was used pervasively by employees at those other Pret locations, as well.”
Pages 10 & 11 , points 38 & 39: “… Burke [HR] said she was just there to deal with the hours issue, and that if Plaintiff had a different issue Plaintiff should call a hotline dedicated to dealing with complaints. 39.In or around early April, Plaintiff called the hotline to which the human resources representative had referred her. The call went to voicemail. Plaintiff left a voicemail during which she complained about her hours being cut and that her shop was “a hostile work environment.”” HR ignored Ms Battle’s complaint about racist slurs and did the typical thing Pret HR does, sending people away to call some hotline which goes to an automated voice mail only.
Page 11, point 41: “Gregorio [HR] sent Plaintiff an email write-up that mischaracterized and/or omitted many of the issues Plaintiff raised. Notably absent from the write-up was any mention of racial slurs, including the incident Plaintiff told Gregorio about.” Yep, typical Pret HR behaviour, leaving vital issues out and/or distracting from the main issues raised.
Page 14, point 55 & 56: “On July 12, 2018 Plaintiff sent Gregorio an email in which she cited, among other concerns, her coworkers’ use of racial slurs and the lack of action taken in response to her prior complaints. She also mentioned that she had sent Ramos a text about her concerns and that he had not responded and refused to discuss her concerns. Faced with these explicit, written complaints, Pret lurched into action, albeit a kind both belated and insufficient.”
Once Ms Battle put her complaint in writing in an email, Pret suddenly responded, but insufficient of course.
In a lawsuit in 2010 in the UK a Judge ruled in favour of a former Pret worker who sued Pret for unfair dismissal. The Judge mentioned Pret’s HR hearings being quote, “fundamentally flawed”. The Judge further mentioned that the appeal’s hearings also were “fundamentally flawed”. This is a systemic problem in Pret since years as I have experienced and won’t change unless Pret is hit more seriously with high penalties. The peanuts Pret is always ordered to pay is a joke and doesn’t make them change the toxic foundation of this company.
Page 15, point 57: “In or around August 4, 2018 Gregorio sent Plaintiff a follow up email in which she shared the results of her investigation. Under the heading “Inappropriate Language” she confirmed that she was able to substantiate Plaintiff’s allegations that racial slurs are used in the shop. Under the heading “Hostile Work Environment” she confirmed that she was able to substantiate Plaintiff’s concerns…”
But only AFTER Plaintiff put her complaints in WRITING via email!
Page 15, point 58: “Despite these findings, Pret did not terminate Ramos’s employment.”
Why should Pret fire him, they would have to fire the majority of the company!
Well done for Ms Battle with the cool name reflecting her fighting spirit to go all the way to court! In the U.S. it’s much easier to go to court than in the UK and Europe. Pret had to pay 4000 workers back TWICE after being sued in NY for not paying correct wages.
I explain in my interview in below audio player why I withdrew my court case against Pret. But I will never be silent about Pret A Manger’s toxic and corrupt work ethics behind their smiley PR facade!
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
An incomplete list on what other Pret staff say about Pret’s bullying environment: Caught in the Act Bullying at Pret.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.
I know there is nothing new under the sun, but I still want to point something out, as the solidarity towards PEOPLE is separated in a class system. On Twitter there’s an outcry regarding racism in Pret, and rightly so, but the hypocrisy is obvious.
I touched on this already in another blog post: “Shocking Comments“, after a customer raised a much needed question on the systemic bullying in Pret. I explained why the public for the most part doesn’t care:
I have witnessed racism towards staff, and this racism was also from certain European countries towards another country, especially when the shop Manager was from Country A, employed mostly from country A, and if ONE employee was from country B, they were not treated well. But this was very hard to proof, as the bullying and discrimination is subtle. It’s not only a question of black and white, but a general system of favouritism, that especially Pret staff in the USA complain about towards British Management.
Only few of the many reviews on favourisitm and racism:
Link Assistant Manager: “This place is what hell must be like.”
There is RACISM, favouritism, bullying, discrimination towards low-wage EMPLOYEES at Pret A Manger.
But there is NO outcry from the public whatsoever! Mainstream media knows, but there’s silence!
And this is throughout the board at Pret in the UK, USA etc.
I’ve been writing for almost 2 years on the bullying environment in Pret, with my own story at the bottom audio player interview on a podcast based in California. Yet, only very few people even comment, let alone are outraged.
The moment a customer shares their experience of racism or mistreatment of any kind, ESPECIALLY if this customer has a certain stand in society (in this case is a playwright, screenwriter, artist etc.) the outcry is great, and a boycott of Pret is called for.
Pret staff can be bullied, depressed, even suicidal, and in my case bullied during bereavement, it does not bother hardly anyone!
I write extensively about the systemic bullying in Pret in Caught in the Act where a customer witnessed a classical bullying incident in Pret. I have even tweeted a link in the following feed, but apart from one person, no one is bothered. I argued that if the same Winsome Pinnock was an employee, a low-wage worker in Pret, no one would bother to even read her experience:
So, the outcry is huge in above feed, and rightly so, YET low-wage workers are of no concern to these same people who are appalled. Nothing new under the sun in society. And Winsome Pinnock is called a “goddess”, but if the same Winsome Pinnock was a low-wage Pret worker with a racist experience, all the people who commented their concern wouldn’t give a sh!t.
The hypocrisy is great here with all these people’s outcry and seeming concern, almost worshiping someone because of their occupation or stance in society. Their outcry is NOT because of racism, they don’t care if staff are discriminated on race, gender, illness, disability etc. And not only is there NO anti-bullying policy in Pret, the environment is one of bullying as long as profits increase. Racism, discrimination, targeting staff if they don’t fit in is rampant and often subtle. Again, I put plenty of screenshots and links about the systemic bullying in “Caught in the Act“.
I worked at Pret A Manger and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the now “retired” former CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I tell my story for the first time verbally in below audio player interview on a podcast by The Adam Paradox, and wrote two articles in the Scottish Left Review: 1. “Late Night Girl’s” Story with Pret and 2. Pushing Back Against Pret.
Thank you for reading/listening.