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Bartending and sexual harassment

Bartenders in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. experience the third-highest rate of nonfatal workplace violence. Even through they may be frequently subject to sexual harassment, some bartenders feel like they just have to deal with it. Many bars and clubs offer little formal training to staff. In some cases, they simply refer to the employee handbook or offer no guidance at all.

However, research shows that teaching bystanders to get involved when they see misconduct occurring can be effective in preventing sexual harassment. A program called Safe Bars teaches both patrons and bartenders how to diffuse situations in which a person may feel uncomfortable. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol is not necessarily the cause of harassment in bars. However, booze can often be a factor in its occurrence.

A bar, club or restaurant setting may be unique in the fact that there are many bystanders who could witness harassment taking place. This may allow one or more people to intervene. Unfortunately, this is not always possible in a traditional office or other workplace setting. According to the director of Safe Bars, most people are bystanders to such behavior on a regular basis.

Sexual harassment can take many forms, including being the subject of offensive sexual comments or unwanted physical interactions. Those who feel as if they have been victims of such harassment should generally start by notifying their employers. If the complaints lead to retaliation, a victim could talk with an attorney. The victim may seek compensation in the form of punitive damages or backpay if a wrongful termination occurred.

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