For weeks we’ve been reading and hearing about reports of sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood big-wigs, most notably, Harvey Weinstein. It would seem, however, that those allegations aren’t only limited to Hollywood. Even the restaurant industry is beginning to see an uptick in sexual misconduct and harassment allegations.
For weeks we’ve been reading and hearing about reports of sexual harassment allegations against Hollywood big-wigs, most notably, Harvey Weinstein. It would seem, however, that those allegations aren’t only limited to Hollywood. Even the restaurant industry is beginning to see an uptick in sexual misconduct and harassment allegations. For example, a recent investigation by Times-Picayune reported that the Besh Restaurant Group (BRG) has received complaints from “25 current and former female employees who claim to have experienced sexual harassment while working at a number of BRG restaurants” when they were headed by “celebrity chef and New Orleans restaurateur John Besh.” In fact, many of the allegations involve Besh and one accused Besh of “engaging in a long-term unwelcome sexual relationship with a young employee.”
Since the allegations against Besh and the BRG began, the celebrity chef has stepped down from his role, leaving Shannon White in charge as the CEO. White is a long-term employee with the BRG and said, “John has decided to step down from all aspects of operations and to provide his full focus on his family.” In a written statement she also added that the “company’s sexual harassment policy is being updated,” and that “further measures have been taken to address the claims, including an independent investigation, establishment of an employee advisory committee, and ramped-up efforts in sexual harassment training.”
White’s efforts to reassure the public and former and current employees that the company is allegedly taking measures to address the harassment claims certainly are a step in the right direction. However, her actions haven’t stopped other chefs from “publicly commenting on the allegations made against Besh and the culture of harassment in the restaurant industry.”
When discussing the matter, Anthony Bourdain, a celebrity chef and television personality said the following:
“I don’t know the facts of the case or anything with the Besh company, but the fact that it’s a company this size and that there was not a credible avenue, no trustworthy credible office or institution in this big company for women to report or to complain with any confidence that their complaints would be addressed, this is, it’s an indictment of the system.”
José Andrés chimed in on Twitter, tweeting: “Need to make sure [the] restaurant industry is actively leading the way. Respect, dignity, [and] humanity is non-negotiable.”
The allegations against Besh and the BRG aren’t the first to be voiced in the restaurant industry, though. In fact, as the fall out from the Harvey Weinstein debacle continues, more and more “women have been speaking out about sexual harassment within the restaurant industry” and have filed lawsuits against well known and prominent chefs, such as Julian Medina and Corey Lee.
Studies have even been conducted by Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC), a worker advocacy group, that determined the “restaurant industry promotes a sexualized environment that negatively affects the majority of female employees.” For example, according to the study “80 percent of female restaurant employees experience on-the-job harassment from coworkers, with 66 percent of women experiencing high levels of harassment from supervisors. The study also found that “the restaurant industry is the single-largest source of sexual-harassment charges filed by women with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.”
With so many allegations of sexual harassment in numerous industries, it’s clear that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to create safer work environments.
Restaurant Industry Must Ramp-Up Efforts Against Sexual Harassment
25 John Besh Employees Allege Sexual Harassment in His Restaurants