Can Restaurants Stop Harassment Before It Starts?

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In October 2017, the Times-Picayune gave voice to the women who worked at John Besh’s New Orleans restaurants, where “male co-workers and bosses touched female employees without consent, made suggestive comments about their appearance and — in a few cases — tried to leverage positions of authority for sex.” In December, Eater NY broke the news that Mario Batali regularly groped employees and infused workplace conversation with sexual innuendo. A day later the New York Times detailed the many accusations against Ken Friedman of the Spotted Pig, with the impossible-to-forget recollections of what happened on the third floor of that restaurant in a space some employees referred to as “the rape room.”

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What’s Next for Restaurant Tip-Pooling Laws?

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We’re about to reach a tipping point on tipping: In December, the Trump administration’s Department of Labor announced it would roll back regulations that prohibited tip-pooling, or the distribution of tips to anyone other than the front-of-house staff who earned them. (These regulations were enacted under the Obama administration in 2011).

Under proposed — and currently pending — new regulations, employers that pay all of their employees the full minimum wage (not the tipped minimum) would be considered “owners” of any tips made by their staff. They could then: Share or redistribute tips between servers and back-of-house employees like cooks and dishwashers; keep the tips for themselves; distribute among management; or keep for their business.

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