SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, the Hot Cookie management team began an internal investigation after employees blamed their owners via social media of racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and refusal of complaints from Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color employees.

The social media post was shared between multiple Instagram accounts and received more than 5,000 likes in 12 hours. In the post, Paul Perretta, co-owner of Hot Cookie, was accused of using inappropriate racial discriminatory words, including the N-word at the workplace. Another co-owner, Tony Roug, was also condemned for alleged sexual assault by several employees. Stella Gutierrez, a Hot Cookie employee, led the conversation on social media and emphasized that there were more than 20 former and current Hot Cookie employees who experienced unlawful treatment by the owners.

“We tried communicating with management and owner alike to try and have our voices heard before having to go public. We tried to give them a chance to meet with us to no avail, there was no urgency on their part, instead we were met with “solutions” that best suited their needs and comfort with this subject. As someone who has dedicated two years to this business I am completely disappointed in the lack of accountability and sense of urgency from the people running this business. I have suffered from racial discrimination & harassment on top of sexual harassment from both owner and operational management. We gave you a chance to listen. Let see if you’ll listen now. DO NOT SUPPORT THIS BUSINESS UNTIL THEY LISTEN TO AND SUPPORT THEIR EMPLOYEES. Please share and spread the word,” reads the Instagram post via Oscat Delgado.

The Hot Cookie management team is asking for a third-party human resources entity to reach a reconciliation between the ownership and staff.

“At this point, the only response from Hot Cookie is that we certainly want to create an environment free of sexual assault and racial discrimination. We’re totally on board with this change,” said Roug in a statement.

Hot Cookie was founded in 1997 on Castro Street, which is famous for its baked goodies named after body parts. Popular cookies include a phallus shape covered in chocolate.

Hot Cookie employees’ accusation on social media is has impacted the company’s Yelp page that has received a one-star cookie shop.

Written By Akane Ka and Donald Roberts