By NJRHA president, Marilou Halvorsen, in response to The Star-Ledger's article published on Tuesday, May 29.
In response to the recent article by The Star-Ledger, titled “Sex, harassment and abuse: An inside look at the dark side of N.J. restaurants,” on May 29, 2018, the New Jersey Restaurant & Hospitality Association (NJRHA) and our partner, the National Restaurant Association, are leading the way on addressing and educating our industry regarding appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. The issue of sexual harassment is a very real and very serious problem. Since the Harvey Weinstein allegations, we’ve seen just how widespread and prevalent this behavior can be.
Sadly, no industry is immune.
The most advantageous move any industry can make is to educate and train their workers at all levels to recognize inappropriate behavior and to adopt a zero-tolerance policy if harassment occurs. Announced last month, we are offering educational classes, webinars, and other online training for hospitality workers to ensure a safe work environment for all employees.
We want to correct a statement made in the article that says restaurant workers “often earn $2.13 an hour.” The truth is, it is illegal for any tipped employee to make less than the state minimum wage of $8.60 an hour. Sexual harassment cannot be a platform to propel the argument that tipped workers are not making minimum wage; this is a falsehood and a distraction from the issue at hand.
Restaurants are not the only workplaces where sexual harassment and assault are occurring. This problem happens in boardrooms, bedrooms, movie sets, and, yes, restaurants. Our association is working hard to abolish sexual harassment in every way we can, and we believe this issue is too serious to be used as a platform for any other political agenda.