NEW ORLEANS – From Hollywood to New Orleans, the claims of sexual misconduct and even sexual assault are becoming a daily conversation.
Locally, the biggest bombshell involved New Orleans Chef John Besh.
“I worked next to a John Besh restaurant for a long time. The rumors were circulating from that building so for me it was gratifying to see it talked about,” Caroline Richter said.
Richter says sexual harassment is commons in the service industry and considering the thousands it employs in the city, it is an issue that potentially impacts an untold number of lives.
“Every woman I know who works in the service industry has dealt with this at some point or another,” Richter said.
Following allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Richter wanted to keep the conversation going so she created an open group called Medusa.
“We’re at a time where people are fed up with harassment. Our aim is to combat sexual harassment and assault in the service industry by working with restaurant owners and employees,” Richter said.
The group looks to create a safe, educational space for anyone with something to say about the topic. She feels it has been kept quiet for too long.
The group’s first meeting was last week and it brought about 50 people to the table.
"If every one of those 50 people has a conversation with someone else in the industry sooner or later that'll be everyone in the city talking about this,” Richter said.
While still in the early stages, Richter hopes their call for change will be heard and encourages anyone who is willing to join them and take a stand.
“The more people talk about these issues the more people will come forward,” she said.
The group’s upcoming meetings will focus on ways to make it easier and safer for service industry employees to report assault and harassment. The next meeting is at Coquette on December 18.
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