Restaurant Compliance: Providing Sexual Harassment Training for Your Staff


IndustryInsider Insights


  • Establishing a culture of respect and inclusion is not just supervisors’ jobs but everyone’s. Taking small efforts like discussing relevant articles during family meal can make a big difference.
  • In California, employers must provide sexual harassment training within six months of a new hire’s hire date as well as every two years afterward.
  • Supervisors must receive at least two hours of training. Non-supervisors must receive at least one hour of training.

In February, we hosted Marie Trimble Holvick at the Pared office to broadcast our very first segment of Pared On-Air, entitled “Restaurant Labor Laws and Compliance in 2019.” Holvick is a partner at Gordon & Rees, specializing in their Employment and Retail & Hospitality practice, and she also serves on the Board of Directors for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

This article covers sexual harassment training. It’s the third of our four-part series where we break down highlights from the webinar. Find our first post about preventing wage and hour claims and our second post about proper tip handling.

Learn how to prevent wage and hour claims against your business.

The current landscape of sexual harassment in restaurants

Last year was a landmark year for victims of sexual harassment coming forward in the era of #MeToo — and the restaurant industry was no exception. A recent Buzzfeed News analysis found that most sexual harassment claims are filed from the restaurant industry. As many as 90% of women and 70% of men reported experiencing some type of harassment on the job. Staff members report encountering harassment from customers, managers, coworkers, and even high-profile chefs and celebrities.

These days, it’s more important than ever to take action against harassment. Marie advises, “If you hear a joke here or there, it’s your duty to speak up. It’s your duty as a manager to say, ‘Cut it out. That wasn’t funny.’ You don’t have to run straight to the written warning. You don’t need to have the formal disciplinary meeting, but you do need people who are comfortable speaking up and saying, ‘This is not okay.’ You need owners to show that they care about this”

California’s legal requirements

According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), operators must follow specific requirements when providing sexual harassment training. Employers will also have until January 1, 2020 to comply with the following:

Training requirements:

  • For employers with five or more employees
    • Supervisors must receive at least two hours of effective sexual harassment training.
    • Non-supervisors must receive at least one hour of effective sexual harassment training.
    • Seasonal or temporary staff and contractors count toward the minimum employee count. Temporary or seasonal employees who work for less than six months should receive training within 30 days after the hire date or within 100 hours worked (whichever is first).
    • Provide training within six months of an employee’s hire date, and every two years thereafter.

Training content (including but not limited to):

  • The definition of sexual harassment
  • The types of behavior that is considered sexual harassmen
  • The difference between harassment and bullying
  • Tips to prevent sexual harassment
  • The statutes and case-law preventing sexual harassment
  • The manager’s obligations to report incidents and resources for victims
  • What to do if a supervisor is accused of sexual harassment

Who can provide training:

  • Licensed attorneys who have been members of the bar in a given state for at least two years whose practice specializes in employment law
  • Human resource professionals or harassment prevention consultants with at least two years of experience in conducting training, responding to or investigating sexual harassment complaints, and advising employers on sexual harassment and prevention
  • Law school, college, or university instructors with a postgraduate degree or California teaching credential and either 20 hours of instruction about employment law

How to get started marketing your restaurant on social media with Instagram.

A note about harassment versus bullying

While harassment has clear legal consequences, bullying generally isn’t treated with the same weight. As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to review the difference between them but where is the line drawn? Marie explains, “harassment would be where somebody is treated poorly because of a protected class… because you’re a woman or because you’re black or because you’re older. Whereas, bullying is just the person that’s a jerk.” Knowing the nuances ensures everyone is empowered to respond appropriately.

Additional best practices to consider as a business owner

In addition to providing training, your business should have clear sexual harassment policies. Your employees should also understand how to recognize and report instances of sexual harassment. Make an effort to discuss relevant articles during family meals, review policies together, and encourage employees to speak out against abuse.

For a detailed discussion on these guidelines and more view our full webinar here. In our next post, we’ll be covering ADA compliance.

Disclaimer: The information provided in article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you seek advice in regards to any specific issues outlined above. 

Ready to sign up for Pared?
Get started here and never be short-staffed again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.