After a series of allegations of rampant sexual harassment, throughout the restaurant group that bears his name, chef John Besh has left. "John has decided to step down from all aspects of operations and to provide his full focus on his family," new CEO of New Orleans-based Besh Restaurant Group, Shannon White, said Monday, per the Times-Picayune. The paper previously described allegations of sexual harassment made by 25 current and past BRG employees. In response, BRG initially claimed there had been no internal complaints. However, BRG didn't actually have a human resources department to handle complaints until this month, "an anomaly … among companies of similar size—and even some smaller," reports the Times-Picayune.
It wasn't so unusual for restaurant groups not to staff an HR representative around the time BRG was founded in 2005. But "if you're not operating with an HR department now, and you have more than 100 employees, you're asking for trouble," an employment lawyer says. BRG says its first HR director, who started work on Oct. 11, will now ensure BRG's 1,200 employees at 12 restaurants complete a program that largely "addresses sexual harassment related concerns." Employees will also benefit from counseling, a new employee advisory committee, and a phone line specifically for complaints, while BRG says it has hired an expert "to independently investigate whether any unreported claims exist," per the New Orleans Advocate. (Read more sexual harassment stories.)