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From Risk to Asset: Training Restaurant Managers in the Era of #MeToo

Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry is prevalent. It occurs between customers and employees, co-workers, and managers and employees. And although those dynamics happen between many people, in each scenario, one person can help reduce the risk harassment poses to your people and your business: the restaurant manager.

The manager, in terms of authority, often is the only person on the same level as the customer. As a result, the manager can prevent harassment between patrons and front-of-house staff. The manager holds authority over all employees, which puts them in a unique position to stop harassment among staff. Lastly, managers can set the example for a harassment-free culture by interacting with employees in a respectful and appropriate manner.

However, this authority also has the potential to create liability for your company. Because restaurant managers also have the power and discretion to ignore complaints or retaliate unknowingly, they can leave harassment unchecked, causing harm to your employees, increased turnover and risk of legal action. According to, more harassment claims are filed by restaurant workers than workers in any other industry.

Equip managers with the right training

The right training can help your managers use their authority to protect your people and your business from the damage sexual harassment can cause. So what does the right training look like?

  • It’s comprehensive. It should cover all scenarios in which the manager can prevent or address harassment properly, including:
    • Self-regulation: Ensure managers understand harassment and that they should abstain from it. It’s also important they know they set the tone for the rest of the staff, and leading by example can be a powerful deterrent.
    • Diligence in acknowledging and documenting complaints: Managers need to know that ignoring and not documenting complaints creates risk, even if managers perceive the complaints to be trivial.
    • Retaliation: Managers should understand that retaliation isn’t just about firing someone. Reducing hours of an employee who has reported harassment could be seen as retaliation as well.
  • It’s ongoing. The days of restaurant managers watching a video and checking a box on an onboarding checklist are over. Anti-harassment laws change, and so too should employer training. As technology evolves, harassment training can become more targeted and interactive than ever before. Your managers should be educated continuously on how to prevent sexual harassment and risk.
  • It’s contextual. Harassment and retaliation don’t mean the same thing for everyone. Don’t leave it to your managers’ discretion to ignore or pursue a harassment complaint. Ensure they understand the different ways harassment and retaliation present themselves in the daily grind.
  • It’s interactive. Offer training with quizzes and questions. Not only will it help your manager better retain information, the right system will allow you to see who has taken the training and how well they understand the material.
  • It’s accessible. Your managers are busy. It’s tough for them to break from the hustle of running the restaurant to sit behind a desktop computer and take comprehensive training. Look for a system that managers can easily access through an app, allowing them to freedom to complete training at a time that’s convenient for them.

Often, how your managers choose to exercise their authority inside the restaurant can make or break your business in the era of #MeToo. The right training can help them make decisions that will protect your people and your business.