Handling sexual harassment from diners at your restaurant

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2021 | employment law

When you opened a restaurant, you knew that you’d get some abrasive customers from time to time. It goes with the territory to have customers who cause problems for you and your staff.

When you hired your wait staff, you selected them because they were good at their jobs and did their best to serve customers well. You have high expectations with your restaurant’s dress code, so everyone comes to work polished each shift.

Unfortunately, this has meant that your attractive wait staff has been receiving comments about how they look. Normally, simple comments get shrugged off, but now you have one waitress complaining that a customer reached out to touch her. Another has been making more regular complaints about lewd comments.

How can you handle this situation to prevent a sexual harassment lawsuit?

One of the main things to do in this kind of situation is to address the behavior outright. If a customer is being rude or is harassing your staff, you have the right and responsibility to ask them to leave. As the owner, you may also consider posting a notice outside the restaurant or upon entry that expresses that sexual harassment from customers will not be tolerated.

If you don’t take control of this situation, your employees could make a complaint against you. They could argue that you’re allowing harassment when you should be addressing it, which is the last thing you want to deal with as an employer. You depend on your workers, and they deserve to feel safe as they work each shift and know that you are there to protect them against inappropriate contact in the workplace.