Harassment Laws in the Restaurant Industry
As a restaurant manager or owner, you’re already familiar with the many rules and regulations that govern your business. Your guests depend on you to train your staff to follow food safety rules and public health guidelines. Your staff must also follow all rules related to age-restricted alcohol sales and PCI compliance or your business could suffer dire consequences. Harassment laws also apply to you, and for the good of your employees and business, they should get the same amount of attention.
Which Harassment Laws Apply to My Restaurant?
Federal laws, enforced through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), make harassment illegal in all businesses in the United States. The EEOC defines harassment as “…unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” You may also have additional regulations through your state and local agencies. It’s important to note that harassing behavior doesn’t have to be specifically named by harassment laws in order to be considered harassment.
What Happens if Harassment Laws Aren’t Followed at My Restaurant?
When harassment occurs, staff morale decreases, turnover increases, and customer service suffers. It can also leave you and your business legally liable in many different ways. Your restaurant could be charged by the EEOC or sued by a victim of harassment if you don’t follow harassment laws. According to the EEOC, nearly 150,000 lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination or harassment were brought against companies in a single year. From those cases, victims received a total of over $450 million in settlements. As a restaurant manager, you can be held personally liable for harassment that occurs under your supervision.
How Can You Protect Your Restaurant?
Protecting your restaurant from harassment starts with training, and training leads to prevention. The more your employees know about harassment and harassment laws, the better prepared they’ll be to recognize inappropriate conduct, stop it, and report it. Comprehensive harassment training must be mandatory for all restaurant employees and managers.
Online Training on Harassment Laws
Explaining harassment laws is the cornerstone of harassment training. The online training course Harassment in the Workplace helps employees and managers understand harassment laws and how they apply to your business. Click here for more information.
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