Carly Baratt Quoted in “Restaurants After #MeToo: How This ‘Wake-Up Call’ is Impacting Harassment Training”

Restaurant Dive

Carly Baratt, Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in Restaurant Dive, in “Restaurants After #MeToo: How This ‘Wake-Up Call’ is Impacting Harassment Training,” by Alicia Kelso.

Following is an excerpt:

The “Me Too” movement started well before hashtags existed, tracing its roots back to 2006 when civil rights activist Tarana Burke coined the phrase as a way to help survivors of sexual violence.

The movement has since grown significantly, tumbling some of the biggest careers across industries, from entertainment (Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein) to restaurants (Mario Batali, John Besh, Mike Isabella, Ken Friedman), and causing leaders at the very top to not only pay attention, but also to prioritize improved policies. …

However, despite the #MeToo movement and its consequences making their way into the spotlight, Carly Baratt, an associate with New York-based law firm Epstein Becker Green, said there is no clear evidence that the restaurant industry has changed significantly because of the movement — yet.

“That said, employers have become more cognizant and some more proactive in trying to create an anti-harassment workplace,” Baratt told Restaurant Dive. “The focus on #MeToo seems to have prompted — at least in part — legislative efforts by states to curb sexual harassment by introducing mandatory training for restaurant employees. If these efforts are successful, the industry could see real change.” …

Baratt adds that interactive training, which provides illustrative examples of harassment, should be provided to all employees, particularly new hires.

“Ideally, such training would describe how victims and bystanders should report suspected harassment to management,” she said. “Any training should recognize that harassment is just as likely to originate with a coworker as it is a customer.” …

Baratt argues that training should be a cost of doing business, therefore putting franchisees on the investment hook, while Clark believes this very question underscores the difficulties the industry could have in fully rectifying the issue. …

Baratt agrees. “While training can be time intensive and costly for restaurant companies, especially smaller establishments, restaurants need to consider the legal risks of not providing training,” she said. “Not only can training prevent lawsuits, but proof that a restaurant conducted anti-harassment training can be a defense to liability or damages in the event of litigation.”