To the community that has taken interest:
We are so grateful for the immense response our story received this week. Thank you to all for raising your voices with us and creating a dialogue not only around this particular instance of sexual and verbal abuse, but also around the greater issue of such abuses that are rampant in the restaurant industry. We have found a great deal of solidarity in learning how others have coped in similar work environments, but are saddened to hear our own experiences corroborated by additional claims of sexual harassment against Juventino in other workplaces, including his time as an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. The emails and comments of encouragement have inspired us to continue working towards creating an online forum where instances of abuse can be brought to light and the power of accountability can be put back in the hands of the worker. We thank you for your continued support throughout our further endeavors.
Along with this overwhelming support, some important questions have been raised. One such question is: why have we as a group, chosen to remain anonymous? We hope that by remaining anonymous we will call attention to the problem at large, harassment in the workplace, rather than focus on specific individuals. We want to illuminate an issue that is prevalent in this profession by sharing our experiences and highlighting one example of what takes place in many restaurants and accepted as the norm because “it’s just the industry.”
We also made this decision out of respect for the women who were subject to the most severe instances of sexual harassment. Their experiences were incredibly traumatic and we must treat these individuals’ decision to share them publicly with considerable sensitivity. With anonymity, there is solidarity – not just among our own group of 22 former employees, but as a group inclusive of anyone who has experienced harassment within the food industry.
In addition, we would like to speak to the question regarding what appears as an absence of voices from former male employees of Juventino. There is not a great deal of feedback from male servers because Juventino almost exclusively hires female servers in their early twenties. Since the restaurant opened four years ago, he has hired less than five male staff members for positions in the front of house, which is a shockingly low number considering the high turnover rate of this business. There are males included in our group letter, but as we are presenting our concerns as a united front, we did not find it necessary to demarcate the male voices.
As for what we can do as a community to demand accountability from Juventino, much of the power lies in the hands of the patrons who support an establishment. We hope to inspire people to be active with their choice of patronage and in doing so, help broaden the definition of sustainability in the industry.
Thank you again for all of your support and comments,