You’ve heard the expression “the restaurant business is show business,” right? Every shift is like a production where you and your staff have to do everything right to impress your audience with the performance of a lifetime. The analogy holds true in a more unfortunate way, too, with the prevalence of sexual harassment in industry. According to one report, the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Changing this culture in the industry has to happen from within. As an owner or manager, you have an obligation to protect your employees from harassment. It starts with accepting some truths about sexual harassment that may be hard to face. Take a look:
Sexual harassment can happen in any restaurant.
No business is immune to the risk of sexual harassment. In restaurants, harassment can happen in the front of the house or the back. Sexual harassment doesn’t always mean a man is harassing a woman. There are many variations of harassment, including a man sexually harassing another man, a female manager requesting sexual favors from a female or male employee, or a customer making fun of a transgender employee, just to name a few.
Having no complaints does not equal no harassment.
A victim of sexual harassment does not have to complain or file a report in order for the behavior to create a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment affects your entire team. Train everyone to report behavior they feel is harassing, even if it’s not happening to them. Make sure everyone knows that there will never be retaliation for any reports made in good faith. Sexual harassment training is key to ensuring your employees know what to do if they experience or witness harassment.
Sexual harassment destroys businesses and careers.
If harassment occurs at your restaurant, you can be held personally liable. The average judgement against business managers who allow harassment to happen is around $50,000. Companies are often found liable for much more than that. Even when legal judgements don’t go that far, accused harassers and businesses almost always lose in the court of public opinion. Even your most loyal guests won’t support you if your restaurant becomes the center of a sexual harassment scandal.
In restaurants, harassment threats can be external.
Your employees, especially in the front of the house, can be the targets of harassment from guests. Employees must know that you have their backs and that their safety and well-being are more important that keeping guests happy. Employees may also be targets of harassment from vendors or higher-level managers. Sexual harassment training must cover not just how to recognize harassment from these external sources.
Online Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
Training is the key to preventing sexual harassment. Online training makes it easy to quickly train everyone on your staff to recognize sexual harassment and take action when it occurs. Click here for more information on the Harassment in the Workplace online training program.