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Restaurant employee rights are graduating from the "old-school"

Inappropriate conduct in the workplace can sometimes be difficult to identify and to deal with. Sexual harassment, in particular, is a problem that many workers and their employers are not properly prepared to confront. A new program set to begin soon in Ontario may help to clarify employee rights regarding harassment and assault for many.

On Sept. 7, 2016, the Ontario Minister for Women's Issues, Tracy MacCharles, announced the provincial government has allocated $1.7 million for anti-harassment training in the restaurant industry over the next three years. Training will be instituted for employees, managers and owners to help them identify sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition, they will learn how to handle these problems. Regulations pertaining to the investigation of alleged cases of harassment by supervisors and owners will also go into effect this month.

The food service business has been identified as a field in which sexual harassment is a particular concern. Nearly half a million servers work in Ontario, many of them young women. There is perceived to be an "old-school" attitude toward sexual harassment in the bar and restaurant business, and this new program aims to modernize views on what is and is not acceptable behaviour.

This program is a welcome step in the right direction for protecting employee rights. Still, there will continue to be instances of harassment in this and every industry. Women and men who feel they have had their rights violated at work might consider speaking with a legal professional who deals with employment law in Ontario.

Source: Ottawa - CBC News, "Ottawa restaurateurs embrace anti-harassment training", Mario Carlucci, Sept. 10, 2016

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