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DC Restaurant Association to Host First-Ever Sexual Harassment Training

January 26, 2018

By   –  Senior Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal

Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, the city’s restaurant industry trade group, will begin offering training to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination in restaurants, the association’s management said Thursday. 

The courses will be offered in person and online and in different sessions: one for supervisors and managers and another for employees. This is a more formal training on this subject than RAMW has ever offered; in the past, there have been one-off security trainings that may have referenced sexual harassment. 

The new addition to RAMW’s training portfolio comes after a year that saw more people than ever before talking about the pervasive culture of sexual harassment and discrimination in the hospitality industry. Celebrity chefs such as Mario Batali and John Besh have stepped down from their companies as a result of the allegations, while lesser-known personalities, including an unnamed manager at former Silver Spring restaurant Jackie’s, have faced sexual assault allegations, according to the Washington Post. 

“In the climate we’re in right now, it doesn’t immediately change our culture, but it’s one step in the right direction,” said RAMW managing director Julie Sproesser.

As to why the courses hadn’t been offered before now, it was mainly because members had not come to the organization to ask for it, she added. 

“People had to address this, they had to ask for training. We are a support to the restaurant industry here. We create programming and resources to help with things our members are asking us for,” said Sproesser. “That doesn’t mean this problem didn’t exist and couldn’t have been addressed before.”

RAMW’s first in-person sexual harassment and discrimination course, geared toward restaurant owners and management, was held in January. The event sold out with 80 attendees and there is now a waiting list to register for the next one, which is scheduled for April 24. The three-hour course, featuring training from nonprofit Futures Without Violence, will be held quarterly.

For the online courses, offered through a company called Inspired Learning, registration just opened Thursday and a handful of people have already signed up. The course for supervisors and managers lasts 95 minutes and costs $30 per person for RAMW members and $35 for non-members. The course for employees is 60 minutes long and costs $25 or $30, depending on membership. 

The courses will include an explanation of quid pro quo and hostile work environments, as well as of no-retaliation policies; discussion of confidentiality; the definition of harassment and various protected workplace categories. Attendees will receive a certificate of completion when they finish the course. 

“Supervisors will learn about their special role in the organization, being a role model, how to enforce policies, handle complaints, set a positive tone, and reach out for assistance when needed,” according to RAMW’s outline of the courses. The employee courses will teach how to “understand, avoid and report” harassment and include discussions of real life scenarios.