I am a restaurant host. Part of my job requires I open the door for entering and departing guests.
When I do hold the door open for a guest, I’m physically trapped between he or she and said door. This position seems to shout,
“I’m here for your fondling pleasure! Grope me! Kiss me! Molest me!’
This is especially true of customers who have been in the bar for a good long while.
Management agrees I don’t have to put up with this but does not do anything to address the problem. By the time I’ve told them, the guests have departed and there isn’t much my managers can do to help me.
What can I say or do to make it clear these affections are NOT welcome and will not be tolerated?
Dear Not Happy:
Thank you for your question.
You told me in our email chat that recent incidents have included:
- A man grabbing and squeezing your butt
- A woman kissing you on the neck
- Several hugs from complete strangers
As you stated in your last email to me, you seem to be a magnet for the physically needy.
This is not OK. Nobody should have to go to work and worry about being physically assaulted or touched in any unwanted way. I say “unwanted” because my definition of sexual harassment is when someone hits on you and you don’t want to screw them.
You are in a tough spot because as you mentioned, by the time you could report this to management the patron has already left the building and you don’t know the identity of the Grabby Gus.
Before I go any further, please read my disclaimer:
DISCLAIMER AND WAIVER OF LIABILITY
Before you proceed with what is sure to be the finest reading of your life, let me get the legal mumbo jumbo out of the way.
I am not a doctor or a licensed therapist and I am not providing medical information or guidance, so don’t even think about suing me for malpractice if your life turns to shit after following my advice. I can’t get insurance for this fledgling column, so if you are looking for deep pockets, you will have to buy some cargo pants.
Yes, I am a lawyer, but I am not YOUR lawyer. Any mention of the legal system and how I would approach your problem were I standing in your shoes (and they better be nice shoes, because I really like shoes) is not legal advice, it is simply advice.
While I relish the idea of having a confidante/advisor relationship with anyone who seeks a pithy and irreverent take on his or her issue, I am not interested in an attorney-client relationship with anyone. Been there, done that. It’s not you; it’s me.
You, reader, hereby absolve me of any liability for your use of this column. If you do try to sue me, not only will I come after you in perpetuity for my legal fees and costs associated with my defense, I will also unfriend you on Facebook.
Robin’s Decidedly Non-Legal- Advice for Not Happy
- Ask your boss to agree in writing that holding the door open for guests is not a mandatory job duty. Employers have a duty to protect employees from sexual harassment, even when it comes from customers.
- If your boss will not help you out, look for another job where you are supported and respected by management. A scummy plaintiff’s lawyer with no concept of personal responsibility would tell you to sue. I won’t. If you work for shitty people change your job, not your status as a non-litigant.
- Whether or not your boss agrees, exercise your discretion on the door-opening duty. Get busy doing something else when you see people exiting after several drinks.
- When you open the door, open it all the way and stand behind it so as to use the door as a shield. This will look strange but if you hold a menu you can fend off these horny lonely losers with the menu in one hand (I’ve seen your menu, and it could prove a formidable weapon) while your other hand is holding the door.
I know where you work and I like that place so I’ll drop by and show you what I mean. You have my word I will not attempt to mate with you when I leave.
- If you are seeing a pattern of abuse from drunk customers, you have a moral duty to report that to your boss. Servers in the bar are clearly not doing their job of cutting people off when they are intoxicated. Under Oregon’s Dram Shop law, that makes the restaurant owners liable should a drunk driver be involved in an accident after being over-served at your place of work.
- When Grabby Gus leaves, find his server and get his name from his credit card. Ask management to ban him.
Robin’s Decidedly Clever Advice for Assholes Who Will Not Comply with Social Niceties
The following advice is for when you are faced with those who create a workaround for my excellent door-holding strategy defined above (patent pending) and put their hands on you.
- Protest loudly. What would Robin say?
“Excuse me, but my employment here and your status as a customer does not give you the right to touch me. I’m sorry your husband/wife/partner chooses not to fuck you anymore, but I’d appreciate you taking out your sexual frustrations on your well-greased palm or a willing and clearly desperate-for-crack-cash prostitute. Consider yourself banned from this restaurant.”
- Smack them hard with the menu while making it look like an accident.
“I’m so sorry! You startled me when you tried to insert your car keys into my lady bits and I just reacted! You’ll want to use club soda to get that blood stain out of your Men’s Wearhouse® shirt.”
- If you suspect they have been drinking too much, follow them to their car and note the make, model, and license number. Holler to them, “Are you sure you should be driving? Can I call you a cab?”
- When they wave you off and get in the car, use your cell phone to call 9-1-1 and tattle like a bitch. Again, what would Robin say?
“I just saw a driver get into a car and he looks like he is impaired. Here is the address from where he is leaving and his license plate number and a description of the car. Please hurry before he hurts someone!”
If none of these approaches work, we look to the question:
How do you become less magnetic and attractive to these customers?
I have emailed you a photo of my favorite divorce attorney.
Please take it to a FedEx® office (formerly Kinkos®) and have them enlarge the photo and transform it into a mask. Wear that mask during your shifts and I assure you, you will no longer be touched inappropriately.
Shit, I take that back.
You could very well be assaulted in anger rather than lust. Forget that idea and just stick to my advice above.
FedEx and Men’s Wearhouse, thank you for the sponsorship opportunity. However, I am not in agreement with your proposed changes to our terms. I do not wish to be paid in bubblewrap or tacky ties made in China. Please remit my fee of $5,000-per-mention immediately.