During an eight-month investigation, 25 current and former Besh Group employees told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune that they were victims of sexual harassment while working at BRG or at a number of its restaurants.As a lot of people are already saying, though, this isn't isolated merely to one company. The food services business, like so much of the hospitality industry in general, tends to treat workers as disposable objects. Women, in particular, suffer under this exploitative dynamic. Changing that is critical to the future of the city's working class. The Besh company didn't even have an HR department, let alone any semblance of an organized and mutually supportive workforce. Instead, it had some women in management positions.
Nine women agreed to have their names published in this story, including Robison and two female colleagues who left BRG the same week she did: Vy Linh Ky, who held jobs in BRG restaurants as well as its corporate office beginning in 2012; and Lindsey Reynolds, the company's social media manager for six months.
Taken together, they and other women described a company where several male co-workers and bosses touched female employees without consent, made suggestive comments about their appearance and – in a few cases – tried to leverage positions of authority for sex. Several women said female colleagues, including in some cases their immediate managers, warned them to beware of "handsy" male supervisors – at times on day one on the job. Those who complained of sexual harassment were berated, ostracized or ignored, the women said.
Besh repeatedly cited a number of management level women at BRG as evidence contradicting the culture described by the women alleging sexual harassment. Referring to female managers still working at the company, Besh said: "These are talented women who wouldn't stand for that crap," meaning sexual harassment.Congratulations.
Asked where Reynolds should have taken her complaint if Besh Group lacked a human resources department, Besh said she should have brought her complaints to one of the women managers.