Companies in the hospitality industry – such as bars, restaurants and hotels – can now train their workers to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace using a free online course.
The course was launched by the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, in conjunction with tourism industry associations and the Ontario provincial government, which provided funding.
"There is no excuse, no excuse for any company not to be able to now provide the training to their employees," said William Pallett, chair of the board of Tourism HR Canada.
“Nothing could be easier.”
The course is called ‘It's Your Shift’, sand it can be accessed through the website itsyourshift.ca.
- It has five modules of 30 to 45 minutes each, for both managers and front-line workers.
- It uses case studies to show how to spot inappropriate behaviour, when and how to intervene, and how to reduce the likelihood of its occurrence.
- It reminds employers of their obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code and under a provincial law, aimed at reducing sexual violence and harassment, that was passed last year.
- It teaches employers what they can do to help change attitudes and create safe environments for their employees and their customers.
"I really think it's going to change attitudes," Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn commented. "It's going to make workplaces safer, more responsive to complaints about sexual violence and harassment."
"More than 450,000 people work in Ontario's hospitality sector and we know they will be working harder than ever over the holidays," Ontario Status of Women Minister Indira Naidoo-Harris said at the launch event. "But the harsh reality is many witness sexual violence or harassment on their properties on a regular basis."
In an interview with CBC
News, sports bar manager Matt McKibbo added that most of the sexual harassment he said he's witnessed during his 15 years in the industry has been customers harassing servers.
"It's mostly drunken customers on a Friday or Saturday night is usually the issue, getting a little too hands on," he said, citing an instance when a female server quit after a customer grabbed part of her body.
McKibbo added that male customers sometimes have the mindset that women in the industry should tolerate their behaviour because they believe it comes with the territory.
Bar employee Alisha May said customers are routinely trying to get her phone number or making comments about her appearance.
"At the end of the day, learning about sexual harassment and how to identify it and how to stop it should be for people who are harassers," May told CBC
Previous employers have told her to “just ignore” the behaviour of customers. “They did not have my back,” she added.
Dan Morrow, head of food and beverage services for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, told CBC
the launch is timely given the recent focus on sexual harassment in the news, but also because of the busy holiday season.
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