- One Fair Wage and Survivors Know have collaborated on a report claiming a "culture of sexual harassment, wage theft and white supremacy" at Dallas-based eatertainment concept Topgolf, according to an email sent to Restaurant Dive. The findings are based on 12 lawsuits from 2020-2021 against the company, as well as interviews with 72 workers from 28 locations in 15 states. The chain has over 25,000 workers, per the report. Topgolf did not respond to a request for comment before press time.
- Fifty-four percent of Topgolf workers report being sexually harassed, per the survey. That number jumps to 63% for women and nonbinary employees and 100% of Black, Indigenous and/or Latinx/Hispanic women under 50 years old.
- The pandemic seems to have worsened this problem. Most of Topgolf's tipped workers (75%) surveyed reported a reduction in tips or fear of losing tips for enforcing COVID-19 protocols, while 71% of workers reported being overworked and about 55% of women workers reported an increase in harassment or hostility.
These reports of workplace harassment at Topgolf isn't the first time the chain has been scrutinized for its treatment of employees and echo a larger problem within the foodservice segment.
The company settled an attempted sexual assault case this week against its former chef Silvino Hinojosa, for example, brought forth by four former employees. The lawsuit claimed Hinojosa was protected by the company for years because of a "frat boy" culture among company executives. Another sexual assault case against Topgolf was filed in Oklahoma City in 2017, which was also settled out of court. In June, the company was also sued by a Black woman alleging her supervisor called her racist names and made sexual comments about her.
Survivors Know has created a petition on coworker.org calling for an end to what it calls Topgolf's "abuses against workers/associates." Among some of its demands include resources to change the "toxic culture "and a regular minimum wage with tips. The group also called for an independent oversight committee looking at ethics and culture and would develop monitoring metrics and standards to measure compliance.
In spite of these reports, however, the company has been recognized as a best employer for diversity and a best employer for women by Forbes in the past two years. It has also been recognized as a best place to work from several publications, including the Washington Post and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Topgolf is also beginning to grow again after struggling through the pandemic, with locations planned for Tennessee, Idaho, North Carolina and Southern California in 2022, and new locations opened in New York, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and China during the last few months. The company is testing a smaller-footprint concept as well that shrinks its typical format from 105,000 square feet to less than 10,000 square feet. If it finds success with this more cost-efficient model, it could bolster its expansion plans — though the report by OFW and Survivors Know could make staffing new locations difficult, especially given the new leverage foodservice employees have found amid the labor crisis.