Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Harassment as a Restaurant Owner
Restaurant owners who allow sexual harassment to exist in the workplace put themselves at risk for complaints and lawsuits. It is wise to understand what actions you can take to eliminate sexual harassment and avoid liability.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) pointed out that Pizza Hut became liable in the Lockard v. Pizza Hut case because the franchisee ignored corporate policy that required managers to inform a customer to stop harassing their employees. It was their policy to require that customers leave when they failed to heed the manager’s warning. The harassment case resulted in the franchisee paying the employee approximately $38,000 in damages.
What Actions Can Restaurant Owners Take?
To prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, restaurant owners can take the following measures:
- Devise and enforce anti-harassment polices
- Establish procedures for employees to file complaints
- Establish procedures for managers to address complaints regularly and fairly
- Establish a procedure for employees to report managers to a Human Resources department when being harassed by a manager
- Use the “secret shoppers” model and interview employees about instances of sexual harassment
- Require managers to complete sexual harassment training
- Train managers to recognize the various types of sexual harassment and ensure they understand the legal measures necessary to keep the workplace free of sexual harassment
- Train employees in bystander intervention training so witnesses know how to recognize and deal with sexual harassment and can disrupt it
- Train managers how to deal with harassing customers, which includes assigning the employee to a different table, informing the customer that the harassment will not be tolerated, and asking customers to leave when they do not comply.
- Make it restaurant policy not to serve customers who sexually harass employees. Employees can apply the policy in the same way that they can refuse to serve intoxicated or threatening customers.
Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates are glad to discuss employment issues and help business owners create discrimination free work environments.