It’s 2017. There is no room for error. Aside from morality, sexual assault instances can easily close your business. A perfect example of this is the recent John Besh scandal. Eater chronicled the scandal stating that, “5 current and former employees of the Besh Restaurant Group claimed to be victims of sexual harassment while on the job”.
Thankfully, it is no longer acceptable to be complicit with issues involving sexual assault. Cosmo Goss, the executive chef of the Publican in Chicago IL, was recently fired due to his lack of action when it came to an issue involving a photo of an employee being circulated throughout the restaurant.
No employee of any restaurant or restaurant group should be made to feel like they have no voice, or harassed at work. With kitchen work being traditionally male dominated, restaurants need to work extra hard to ensure every employee feels safe and respected. By staying on top of staff and creating strict guidelines for conduct, a positive and respectful environment can be fostered.
In understanding these horrible instances, valuable lessons can be learned as it pertains to your own business.
- Create an inclusive and respectful workplace environment
Create a clear anti-harassment policy and foster an environment where even behavior that may seem initially harmless – like inappropriate jokes, are off limits. Fostering a company culture that is clear and respectful is challenging, but with proper training, clear policies, and effective enforcement it can be done.
- Make it easy to report harassment and potential harassment
One of the issues we are seeing today is companies without a clear procedure for reporting problems. Your system should be clear and written out in your handbook. Your HR staff should be visible and available and management should always be on the lookout for behavior that might be in violation. If you see employees that look uncomfortable, even if no formal complaint is filed, action should be taken to quell the behavior.
- Management Should NEVER Date Employees
When someone in management decides to date an employee, if the relationship goes down in flames, the risk of retaliation is increased tenfold. A server not getting a Saturday night shift is often blamed on a breakup, and this can be incredibly difficult to address. Let your managers know the rules and that they could be personally liable if a lawsuit comes from an inappropriate relationship.
- Eliminate Tomfoolery
Kitchens are full of expensive, dangerous equipment and are often small with staff in constant close body contact. By getting rid of horseplay, restaurants have a much better chance of eliminating inappropriate or compromising behavior.
- Prohibit Employees from Drinking At Their Work Location
By eliminating drinking on premise, employers can lower the risk of harassment or other innapropriate behavior. If post-shift drinks are important to your culture, limit them to one. This is especially important for your managment as their actions, even after work hours, is a reflection on your company and you can be held liable for their behavior.