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Hospitality industry fights back against harassment

Sexual harassment can be a problem for New York workers in an array of occupations. Some industries may have unique challenges in dealing with harassment, especially the hospitality sector, where many customers come through and women workers in particular may face aggressive, uncomfortable interactions. Bars and restaurants have developed a bad reputation for being places where questionable behavior was tolerated between staff or from high-ranking chefs and owners. The #MeToo movement highlighted a number of well-known restaurateurs for this type of behavior. However, the next step involves creating practices that aim to provide long-term solutions for harassment on the job.

Bars are a common site of harassment and unwanted sexual comments for customers as well as staff members. Of course, when bar workers face sexual harassment every day as part of the job, the problem can be even more severe. Industry seminars are dedicating attention to how owners and the industry as a whole can identify problems with sexual harassment and take strong action to support victims. Experts noted that it is important to not dismiss problematic behavior by simply ascribing it to the effects of alcohol. Because alcohol is a major part of the bar industry, clear circumstances of harassment may instead be treated as ambiguous.

Bars that want to stop customer harassment are taking stronger action to stop serving patrons who are unruly or aggressive. Owners and managers can support workers in excluding or stopping service for sexually harassing customers. Some bars are creating systems by which managers are alerted to problematic interactions in order to address problems firmly and clearly.

Clubs and bars that fail to take action to protect their employees may also be held accountable under both existing and proposed legislation. An employment law attorney can also provide advice for hospitality workers who are facing repeated harassment.

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