Drake & Morgan racist bill slur: How your business can avoid PR disaster

By Hannah Thompson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Drake and Morgan racist bill dismissed and suspended staff PR disaster
Cocktail bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan has confirmed it has dismissed a staff member for gross misconduct after a racial slur was found on a customer’s bill. 

The nine-strong company’s London St Paul’s site, The Happenstance, completed disciplinary proceedings against a suspended member of staff on 29 March, after a Twitter user, named @JehansDream, posted a photo with the words "no ice n****" on the bill as part of the drinks order for the group on the afternoon of Sunday 27 March. The drink was reportedly for a female customer who was the only black person in her dining party.

When challenged on the language at the time, staff at the site allegedly explained that they were "unaware" of how the word had come to be printed.

A spokesperson for Drake & Morgan confirmed that the dismissal had taken place. They said: "We are appalled by the unacceptable behaviour of one of our waiting staff on Sunday afternoon. His disciplinary took place this morning and he was dismissed for gross misconduct. We have apologised unequivocally to two members of the group who were at The Happenstance at the weekend."

The statement added: "Drake & Morgan as a business do not discriminate on the grounds of race, age, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, disability or colour. The principles of non-discrimination and equality of opportunity also apply to the way in which staff treat customers as well as colleagues. We cannot apologise enough and are saddened that one person's irresponsible behaviour could risk damaging our reputation."

Founded in 2008, Drake & Morgan operates nine sites across London, each with different names, including the Folly, the Fable, the Parlour and two Refinery locations – one on Bankside, and one on Regent’s Place.

Avoiding PR disaster – how to react to a public accusation

1. Respond respectfully​ and quickly to allegations of misconduct, including suspending staff if needs be, pending further decisions or action
2. Communicate openly​ to customers and business peers via appropriate channels, e.g. respond to a Twitter complaint via Twitter
3. Ensure all responses​ to the incident are easy to find for anyone looking, be it on your website, Twitter account and/or Facebook page
4. Apologise unreservedly​ and genuinely to anyone affected, including contacting them personally if needs be. And don’t use phrases such as “if” you’ve offended, when it’s clear that you have
5. Update your online followers​ (and, if necessary, the media) on proceedings in a timely and respectful manner
6. Take responsibility​ for “rogue” staff – they were part of your company during the incident, after all ‒ but distance yourself from their actions if necessary and be clear that they do not reflect the wider views of the company
7. Always follow proper procedure​ if a situation leads to dismissal of staff. According to the Government service website, Gov.uk, employees can be given a “first and final warning” for serious misconduct, but can be dismissed immediately for gross misconduct – such as theft, violence or gross negligence ‒ as long as their behaviour is investigated fairly, and the employee is given a chance to reply to the allegation.

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