The Daily Rail: Do you commit looks-based discrimination?

August 25, 2016

Today's Specials

This Week is in eSports... Are eSports players training too much?

This week in eSports: The Riot Games/LCS owner spat goes to a new level, a quick overview of what eSports are, and are professional gamers working too much?

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What it means to you: What restaurant servers say isn’t always what they mean.

If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry, you know that there are certain “phrases” all servers use that could be taken as something other than face value. While our guests may not always understand why we’re asking if they prefer bottled water, we sure as heck know what we mean when we overhear a co-worker saying it.


One is the loneliest number

Within the next few weeks, one of the two remaining Howard Johnson restaurants will close down. The HoJo in Bangor, ME will close on Sept 6., where one waitress has worked there since 1966 — the only job she’s ever had. The final stand for HoJos will be in Lake George, NY, which is nowhere close to being closed, according to the owner.

Is this KFC’s secret recipe?

During an interview with the Chicago Tribune, the nephew of of the original Colonel Sanders showed off an impressive scrapbook, which included what might be KFC’s “secret recipe.” Check out the 11 herbs & spices.


Why it’s important to you: It should be your policy to discourage guests filming other guests regardless of the subject’s notoriety.

Can you imagine how hard it must be to go out to dinner if you are Kobe Bryant? Well, you don’t have to anymore. Recently Kobe and his family were having dinner and a nearby diner took it upon himself to shoot a short video clip of the retired NBA star and his family. Kobe can be seen shooting daggers at the stalker and his reaction is appropriate and worthy of instant replay.

This really does beg the question, do you have a responsibility to discourage or even outright ban someone from filming a guest in your restaurant without their permission? We would assert a definitive YES. Setting a safe and comfortable atmosphere is your responsibility. Besides, if a luminary of Kobe Bryant’s tier chooses your location, it’s really good for reputation. It just makes sense to insure they have a great experience. Clearly, this restaurant missed an opportunity to give great service and create a positive buzz for their business.


Why it’s important to you: Do you commit looks-based discrimination?

This is less important story than important discussion. A recent post on Jezebel took on the concept of looks-based discrimination in our industry. The author, Tove Danovich does a credible job researching the history of various aspects of restaurant workplace discriminatory policies. Her conclusion is a depressing indictment of many, if not all, restaurant operators as reprobate misogynists. She specifically calls out, so called, breastaurants like Hooter’s as promoting a disrespect of women in general, and policies that are horrible, specifically.

It’s a worthy read, although long. To be direct, she has a point. We certainly do see young attractive women being favored for their appearance and especially in restaurants that focus on a theme or deliver a nightlife experience. In fact, a breastaurant operation like Twin Peaks (yes, it means what you think) goes so far as to title their servers as entertainers. That distinction says a lot about the reality of our industry. We provide more than just food. As we all know, there are plenty of places to get fed. A full-service restaurant is an entertainment operation. This is the current reality in our industry.

Frankly, we shouldn’t apologize for valuing an attractive staff, if we are trying to attract guests. When it comes to the treatment of our people, then Ms. Danovich hits it the nail on the proverbial head. Once they are on our team it is our responsibility to treat them with respect and provide them equal opportunity. Whether that happens is a fair topic for debate…that it should, is not.


Why it’s important to you: Chipotle once again goes through hell, so you don’t have to.

It may have seemed like sport to excoriate Chipotle over this past year or so. Whether it’s their failed food safety policies, ill-treatment of employees or insider trading, the world’s biggest burrito makers have gotten their collective butts kicked all over the Internet. Now, it appears the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has delivered their own version of a gut punch to the struggling chain. In a decision that invalidates much of Chipotle’s employee rules on social media, the NLRB decided, "employees can talk about wages, hours, conditions and terms of employment. That's protected speech," said Michael Healey, the attorney who worked on the NLRB case.

Do you have a specific policy precluding your team from posting on social media about your restaurant and their working conditions? If you do, we would encourage you to get it reviewed by a labor rules expert before enforcing it. Free speech has limits in the business world, but the NLRB has clarified that your staff can complain and organize to their own benefit. If we know anything, it’s that if Chipotle does it first we need to pay attention… for all the wrong reasons.