Sexual Harassment in Restaurants: Myths vs. Facts


It’s not pretty, but it’s true – the restaurant industry has a somewhat notorious reputation when it comes to sexual harassment. One report states that while 7 percent of women work in the restaurant industry, it’s responsible for 37 percent of all EEOC sexual harassment claims. Another study found that 60 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in their restaurant jobs. It doesn’t have to be this way. With a well-trained staff and informed managers, you can protect both your employees and your business.

Set the Record Straight about Sexual Harassment in Restaurants

According to the EEOC, harassment is any “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” That definition applies across every industry. Outside of the legal definition, though sexual harassment can look a little different in restaurants. Take a look at these misconceptions surrounding sexual harassment in restaurants.

Myth: Harassment only occurs when a manager harasses an employee. A harasser can be anyone – a supervisor, co-worker, vendor, customer. In restaurants, guests are often the harassers. While managers can’t control what guests do, they do have a responsibility to encourage immediate reporting by staff members and stop harassing behavior as soon it’s reported.

Myth: Only women can be sexually harassed. It’s true that women are more frequent targets of harassment, but men can be victims too. Managers must treat harassment of their male employees with the same seriousness as any other form of harassment.

Myth: If a person doesn’t complain about being harassed, then it’s not harassment. Harassment creates a hostile work environment whether or not it is reported. Not all victims of harassment feel comfortable reporting it. Some might feel like it will affect their jobs or be seen as poor guest service. This can lead to escalating harassment that puts the victim and the business at even more risk.

Myth: The only person who can report harassment is the person being harassed. Restaurants are busy places, and managers can’t see everything that’s happening. All employees – regardless of their position – must understand that they have an obligation to report harassment if they witness it.

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 Prevention online training.

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