As numerous industries have learned in the last few years, sexual harassment can occur anywhere. While much of the focus has been on Hollywood and Washington D.C., many people will tell you that one of the most common places where sexual harassment takes place is in the foodservice industry.
Servers and hosts, usually when they are female, may find themselves in uncomfortable situations where a customer makes her feel exposed. The customer may not work on behalf of the company, but management should still take initiative to ensure everyone feels safe. This involves developing a system where servers can report the harassment and a manager can intervene.
Train the staff to be aware of harassment
All companies should host seminars to inform employees of when harassment takes place. Workshops happen around Florida all the time, and they are particularly helpful at restaurants that have bars. However, when you train your staff to inform you of harassment, management must listen. Employees need to know their voices have meaning and that managers can implement unique systems to get the point across.
Implement a color-coded system
Many restaurants and bars abide by a yellow-, orange- and red-coded system. A code yellow occurs when a server gets a bad vibe from a customer, potentially due to a look given. This results in additional supervision around the table. A code orange occurs when the customer actually makes an inappropriate or sexually-charged statement toward the server. This can include vaguer comments, such as “I like your shirt.” It may be innocuous coming from some people, but if the person stares at a server’s chest while saying it, then it could mean something far greater. In this instance, the manager should take over the table. Finally, a code red occurs when a customer engages in repeat inappropriate behaviors, at which point the manager should ask the customer to leave the business.