Take the Right Steps to Protect Your Restaurant

Among the more than 80,000 lawsuits brought against employers in all industries in 2017 alone for discrimination, sexual harassment and other employment-related issues, are numerous high-profile incidents involving restaurants.

Employment Lawsuits Can Debilitate Any Food Establishment

For restaurants of any size, defending these lawsuits can be costly and take management’s time away from their critical dues. Such incidents also have a negative impact on employee morale, productivity and retention. And they can cause enduring reputational damage to any restaurant that goes right to the bottom line.

If they don’t have a robust program in place to address employment practices liability exposures, restaurants of all sizes should take steps to safeguard their workplaces, employees and patrons from these issues. Among the steps they can take are:

Review Compensation Structure

Review pay and compensation practices thoroughly to ensure they are fair and equitable for all employees at every level in your restaurant.

Know Your Overtime Eligibility

Check payroll to make sure all employees are properly categorized with respect to their eligibility for overtime pay to help reduce the risk of potential wage and hour litigation.

Create Strict Anti-Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policies

Establish and strictly enforce “zero-tolerance” policies for discrimination and sexual harassment; these should be communicated clearly to all employees, who should be required to sign documents affirming they understand and accept the policy. The communication and formal acceptance of the policy should also be part of the orientation for all new employees.

Create Incident Reporting Procedures For Your Employees

Establish procedures for employees to report incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination and post them in the kitchen, office and other employee-only areas the restaurant; make sure employees understand and are confident all incidents will be promptly and thoroughly investigated.

Comply with the ADA Amendments Act

Be sure your restaurant is fully compliant with all aspects of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the ADA Amendments Act, as well as any related state and local regulations.

Implement Employee Conduct Training

Provide training for all employees so they understand and adhere to appropriate workplace conduct; make sure the instruction addresses inappropriate use of email, texts, and social media, as well as any issues or interactions involving patrons.

Insure Against Employee Liability Exposures

Work with your insurance advisor to assess your insurance protection for incidents of discrimination or sexual harassment, as well as to determine whether a stand-alone employment practices liability insurance policy might be appropriate for your business. As part of the application process, many of these policies include basic assessments of the insurance buyer’s employment practices and policies.

Protect Yourself from Employment-Related Lawsuits

A robust and well documented employment practices policy not only can help restaurants reduce the likelihood of a related lawsuit, but may be an important element of their legal defense.

For assistance in assessing your employment practices exposures and developing and implementing effective measures to manage these risks, including economical and effective training modules and tailored insurance solutions, contact Restaurant Programs of America at 866-577.7007.