Need help with Sexual Harassment on the Job

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeffrey Noel, Nov 15, 2002.

  1. Jeffrey Noel

    Jeffrey Noel Screenwriter

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    Ok, let me fill you in on the situation.

    My fiance works at a buffet type restaurant and has worked at this place for over a year. Well, tonight when she calls after work she sounds really upset and depressed. So I asked what was wrong. She told me that she had to serve a group of guys who were treating her really bad. They were asking her indirect sexual questions and other things, which she didn't tell me. So she goes to the manager and informs him of this. You know what he said??? "So what!" Can you believe this? I couldn't believe it and still cannot. I asked her if it's happened before and she said yes, and it's happened to other waitresses. She told me that it's been much worse comments that she heard tonight, and still the managers said "So what" or "Oh well".

    If you can't tell, I'm furious. I want to go down and kick the crap out of each manager for making the woman I love go through this. But I want to handle it in a much more professional way, a way that could actually cause a positive change. So what should I do? I will be calling the company headquarters on Monday, and I just e-mailed them tonight. Are there any other steps I should take? This is a very dangerous issue for a business and I want them to make some changes immediately.

    Please guide me in the right directions.

    Thanks!
     
  2. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Contacting headquarters (or a regional manager) is what I would've done, so I think you're going in the right direction. Talking to the management would obviously go nowhere.
     
  3. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    Jeffery, you're taking the right steps, but your fiance is the one that needs to file the complaint, not you. I understand your wanting to protect her, but if you handle it for her, you run the risk of the company thinking you're just some jealous husband. It also might cast doubt in their eyes about whether she really ever complained to the manager (which he's sure to deny), since she wasn't willing to complain to the company herself. See what I'm saying?

    Who did you contact at company headquarters? Does the restaurant have a personnel representative there on site? I know from personal experience that it is best to move up the chain of command in cases like this. For things like sexual harrassment or a hostile work environment, if she can't get the issue resolved with managment, then her personnel representative is the person to go to. If the issue doesn't get resolved from that, she could move to upper management.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Jeffrey, I agree that in the end, your fiancee will have to file the complaint officially. You got the ball rolling, which is good, but someone at headquarters will have to speak to your fiancee to get her side of the story and determine if this is something that needs to be pursued. Also, I hope you cleared this with your fiancee before taking action. While what you did was admirable, I hope she is comfortable with it. Remember, she is the one who will be confronted with the all the questions and potential conflict at the restaurant. Make sure she is comfortable with that. Many companies these days, in an effort to avoid litigation, fire employees accused of sexual harrassment, no questions asked. That could happen to your fiancee's boss. Again, just make sure she is ready to take this matter to that level.

    I am not saying in any way that your fiancee should take this. However, is finding another job an option? Perhaps she would be better off quitting this job and moving on. People should be made to pay for their actions, but in this situation, the best thing for you and your fiancee may be for her to changes jobs. Something to think about.
     
  5. Jeffrey Noel

    Jeffrey Noel Screenwriter

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    Thanks a lot guys. I do totally understand what you are saying about her taking the initiative to file the complaint. It's just so hard for me to sit back and let this go on. Nobody should be allowed to go through this, and Amy, my fiance, isn't the only. I talked to her about it a little more last night and she doesn't really want to pursue it. She's afraid of the consequences. She is looking for another job currently as she is sick of this crap, but you know it will continue to happen. Amy is the type of person that doesn't want to take any actions that could mean another person's job. I just don't see it that way. It reminds me of a sexual abuse case, where the perp is abusing several people and those people won't say anything because they're scared. But if they did, it could stop the perp.

    I will be talking with her more, as I want to pursue. It's not like I'm wanting to sue them or get any money out of this, it's just that I want this inappropriate behavior stopped, NOW!

    Thanks again for the suggestions and comments guys!
     
  6. Brian Perry

    Brian Perry Cinematographer

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    My question is whether the women are being too sensitive or if this particular restaurant is doing something to encourage this boorish behavior (ala Hooters).

    Is this the type of restaurant where most of the customers are frequent, repeat visitors? If not, what exactly can the manager do? You say that the other waitresses are having the same issues. It sounds like this may be a problem that is endemic to the restaurant business, or at least certain types of restaurants (24-hr. diners, truck stops, college bars, etc.)

    On a case by case basis, the manager certainly has the right--or even obligation--to eject customers acting in a hostile manner. (I can't tell if your fiancee reported the incident while it occurred or afterwards.) If the complaints come after the fact, I don't see what else can be done.
     
  7. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    It was customers doing it right? Hmmm...I bet there is not much you can do about it. If it was a fellow employee or manager doing it to her then yeah, you would have something, but because it was a customer probably the only thing that could have happened is they could have been asked to leave, but because the manager didn't I still don't think there is much ground. Being in that type of job you definitely will run into rude and lewd customers, but there is not much you can do about it.

    Its like walking down the street and some stranger says something foul to you, there is nothing you can do about it cause they have a right to say it. At a restaurant its pretty much the same thing, as long as they aren't causing a disturbance (and its not one employee saying to another thereby causing a poor working environment) there really isn't anything that can be done except quit and find another place to work.
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    If a worker is being subjected to a hostile, misogynistic clientelle, and if the management is reacting indifferently, then it doesn't matter what "type" of restaurant it is, nor if the customers are repeat patrons. Just because they come to the establishment frequently doesn't make them "good" customers, not if they are harrassing members of the serving staff. Sexual harrassment is a crime, pure and simple.
     
  9. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Wouldn't such retaliation be criminal?
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Not criminal, but actionable. Retaliation against an employee who lodges a sexual harrassment complaint is a violation, even if it's ultimately determined that the initial complaint was meritless.
    M.
     
  12. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Can't argue with an attorney! Thanks for the clarification, Michael—and so much for my idealism. [​IMG]
     
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    There's nothing wrong with your idealism, Jack. Just think about the reason why employers are held liable when one employee harrasses another. It's because the employer is deemed to have some measure of control over its employees; therefore, the employer is in a position to intervene if an employee misbehaves.

    The same isn't true for customers. An employer's control over customers is much more limited; holding the employer responsible for their behavior wouldn't be fair in the absence of unusual circumstances. (For example, in one EEOC case, the customers were regular patrons and close friends of a bar owner, and the bar owner often sat and drank with them. Thus, he was deemed to be in a position to control their behavior.)

    This isn't to say that the issue isn't worth raising with the employer. You may get corrective action simply because most employers want to minimize the risk of getting sued. However, as noted above, the complaint has to come from the employee herself (or an attorney representing her).

    M.
     
  14. Jeffrey Noel

    Jeffrey Noel Screenwriter

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    I understand the comments that are being offered, but is it not the company's responsibility to provide a safe environment for their employees? Not one time, according to my fiance, have they asked the customers to leave. Servers have complained while still serving the harassing customers, and nothing has ever been done. Isn't that one of the managers' duties?

    Nothing will probably ever come of this, as my fiance will probably never say anything. But I'd like the company to know what their employees are going through!
     
  15. CaseyLS

    CaseyLS Second Unit

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    Hey Jeff where does she work? If theyre treating employees like that I will avoid the place, if it's in Manhattan.

    By the way what dorm is that on your website? Marlatt?
     
  16. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    I agree, contacting the headquarters is the way to do it.

    If a waitress is being harrassed, she should tell the manager and he should have the guts to make them leave and probally call the police.
     
  17. Jeffrey Noel

    Jeffrey Noel Screenwriter

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    Casey, I don't want to say what place it is at this time, but it's over by Wal-mart and Hastings.

    The dorm room pictures are actually of my room from last year. I was an RA in Goodnow for two years but am now in my own place. I do miss the halls though. What hall are you in?
     
  18. CaseyLS

    CaseyLS Second Unit

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    Goodnow this year

    Marlatt last year
     
  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I don't know about the rest of you, but harrassing people who have control over what I'm eating seems like a risky proposition. Perhaps there is some more subversive retaliation that could be initiated to rude customers if the management refuses to do anything...

    I do think management has a duty to keep the workers safe, and should have expelled these customers or at least confronted them.
     

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