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Tips for curbing sexual harassment in the restaurant industry

Sexual harassment has become a hot-button issue in many fields, and the restaurant industry is no exception. Employees—male and female alike—are speaking out about their experiences and drawing attention to the pervasive problem of workplace harassment.

As a result, many restaurants are contemplating how to prevent sexual harassment among their staff, customers and management. Every workplace should be a welcoming environment for employees of all stripes. These a few tips to help prevent, address and curb sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.

Screen new hires carefully

Many people who sexually harass their coworkers or subordinates are serial offenders. One way to help prevent hiring someone who may harass staff members is to carefully screen all candidates for previous offenses. When calling references during the application process, hiring managers should explicitly ask whether the candidate was accused of sexual harassment at work.

Schedule shifts with variety

Many restaurant employees work the same shift every day, with the same people every day. Staff members who experience harassment might be afraid to report their experience for fear of disrupting their shift, or because they must continually work with their harasser. Restaurants can ameliorate this by switching up regular shifts with different staff and supervisors.

Put women in positions of power

An excellent way to combat sexual harassment is to put more female employees in positions of power. Currently, men make up the majority of management and higher-level positions in restaurants, while women are widely relegated to low-wage work. This imbalance of gender and power is ripe for sexual harassment. A healthy balance of men and women in positions of authority can significantly reduce sexual harassment.

Mandate sexual harassment training

Every restaurant should require its staff to undergo sexual harassment training. This training can be crucial in teaching staff to understand, recognize, report and prevent workplace harassment. In particular, managers and other supervisors must understand what constitutes harassment and how to address it if it occurs. Every restaurant functions as a team, and it is up to all team members to stop harassment.

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