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Sexual Harassment Exposed: First Hollywood, Next the Restaurant Industry

Emanuel Shirazi

If you’re in the restaurant industry and you’re a sexual harasser, brace yourselves, it’s about to get ugly. Following the #MeToo campaign and the slew of sexual harassment victims coming forth amidst the Harvey Weinstein and other Hollywood allegations, the restaurant industry is up next. A few weeks ago, Gabrielle Eubank sued Todd English, the celebrated chef of the Plaza Hotel Food Hall in New York City for sexual harassment. This lawsuit is just one of many against English. Back in August, English was sued by six former and current female employees including the hospitality coordinator and hostess. Here is what we know about the current suit:

1/  English made inappropriate comments towards Eubank while she was on the restaurant floor. He said that she was sexy and that he was surprised she was single.

2/ He tried to kiss her on the lips. Eubank had two choices, go along with him, or turn away. She turned away.

3/ He repeatedly showed her physical affection including kissing her on the cheek and hugging her.

The former lawsuit against English alleges that multiple female staff had to endure a rape culture while at work. Male staffers would take otherwise harmless objects such as pens, cucumbers, or bananas and make them sexually suggestive ones. If that weren’t bad enough, staffers would then offer to take the female employee in the back to have sex.

The restaurant industry has long had a reputation for having hostile sexual work environments, and will, therefore, be a hotbed for sexual harassment allegations in the coming months. In addition to the English lawsuit, there have been several high profile cases to come forth. Here are a few:

1/ John Besh, Top Chef and Food Network Challenge judge and owner of a New Orleans based restaurant, has stepped down from his restaurant group after being accused of propagating a vulgar work culture where inappropriate touching was encouraged by upper management.

2/ Abe Hiroki, chef at EN Japanese Brasserie, was sued by his former female manager for touching her butt and simulating sex.

3/ A dishwasher at Le Bilboquet sued a male colleague for groping her repeatedly.

This behavior is so ingrained in certain industries, especially the restaurant industry, that many people don’t even know that they are being sexually harassed when it actually happens. In the past, women in low-income jobs have felt like they didn’t have the power to speak out. But now that there are so many women coming forward in the media, it sets a new standard. Women no longer have to accept this inappropriate behavior as truth.

Do you think the wave of people coming forward in Hollywood with their sexual harassment experiences will also apply to other industries?

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