The women who came forward and exposed the rape culture of the John Besh establishments exposed what is the norm for every hospitality workplace in New Orleans. It is safe to say that no one who has worked in the industry was surprised by the behavior of Besh and those in position of power. We know that sexism and rape culture, much like racism, homophobia, transphobia and other forms of oppression run rampant in the hospitality industry.
This is just another example of how New Orleans bosses and city officials have turned a blind eye to the well-being of the workers and continues to solely be concerned with the profits that we generate. City officials should be launching a citywide investigation to end this dangerous and disgusting culture. Representatives from New Orleans hospitality labor groups and women’s groups should have a seat at the table during this investigation and should be heavily involved in this process. We demand real consequences for John Besh and the managers that fostered a misogynistic, toxic culture. He has stepped down from operations, but what does that really mean in terms of consequences? Besh still owns his restaurants and will continue to receive a fat check despite his horrifying behavior.
Most restaurants, hotels, and bars do not have a Human Resources Department. If someone voices a concern they are ostracized, retaliated against in terms of getting less shifts, or fired. Often when there is a Human Resources Department, it is headed by those aligned with the individuals responsible for creating the hateful culture and bring about little, if any, change.
The workers will no longer stand for an industry that fosters any form of oppressive and hateful culture. It was the workers of Besh’s establishments that organized and sought action to be taken against Besh. We are the ones with unquestionable power and agency. Things get done when we band together and hold people accountable for their wrongdoings and oppression. We’re done trying to negotiate with bosses and managers who encourage and foster racist and sexual harassment.
Until the city does something about this abusive behavior, we will be your Human Resources Department. Contact us with your issues and know that you will receive complete confidentiality, all the say in whether or not you’d like to be involved in bringing about consequences, and will play a part in deciding what you want those consequences to look like. Restaurants, bars, and hotels will be confronted and exposed. The only way to get folks like this to listen is by hitting them where it truly hurts them—their wallets.