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D.C. mandates anti-harassment training for full-service restaurants

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Restaurateurs in Washington, D.C., will be required to provide anti-sexual-harassment training to all employees under a bill approved yesterday by District of Columbia lawmakers.

The measure also calls for the district to set up a hotline restaurant employees can call if they suspect their employer is keeping any portion of their tips.

The training requirement is intended to address concerns that waitresses are routinely subjected to inappropriate behavior because they depend on tips for their livelihoods and may be reluctant to correct guests acting badly as a result. The measure was a concession of sorts for the D.C. Council’s second and official vote yesterday to preserve the tip credit, an employer break that allows full-service restaurants to count servers’ tips toward the minimum wage.

District residents voted by a wide margin in a June special election to end the tip credit and raise the wage paid directly to servers to $15 an hour. On Oct. 2, the Council voted in an emergency session to overturn the ballot initiative, a rare occurrence in government. The Council reaffirmed that decision yesterday, this time approving a tip credit and the mandate for anti-harassment training. That updated bill now goes to Mayor Muriel Bowser, who is expected to sign it into law.

A law requiring annual anti-harassment training went into effect Oct. 6 in New York City, a result of high-profile accusations against celebrity restaurateurs Mario Batali and Ken Friedman. Similar training is required of all employers in California.

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