5 Ethics Vulnerabilities in the Restaurant Industry

As a restaurant owner with a business in the food industry, your challenges are going to be unique from any other segment. And if you’re still thriving in business today, it means you’ve been adaptable to every challenge so far. But there are other concerns that should be on your radar as a food service business owner regarding ethics. Here are some of the ethics risks you could be facing, making the prospect of incorporating an ethics hotline that much more attractive.

Preferential Treatment & Bribes

Ethics come into play when certain restaurant guests or patrons are given preferential treatment over others. And in some instances, there have been cases of hosting staff accepting bribes to bump customers ahead of others for open tables. Bartenders serve up extra potent spirits to certain bar customers who tip well, too. While you might have regular patrons you love, these instances of special treatment or even bribery could backfire for your business in a big way.

Skimming Product & Cash

You’re confident in your restaurant or food service business’s ability to keep a watchful eye on cash flow and monitor tipping. But it’s still common for some employees to give into the temptation to skim a little when the opportunity arises. It might only be an extra few dollars here or there. Or it could be snacking in the kitchen or taking home product that violates your guidelines. Either way, skimming of cash or product is impacting your bottom line.

Safety Conditions

Depending on your restaurant operations, you could be asking your employees to work in potentially dangerous conditions with dangerous equipment. And while you take great care in providing the necessary training and enforcing safety policies regarding grill use, preventing burns and cuts, and slippery floors, your staff could still be at risk. And if some of your team members are working longer hours or are teenagers, who are proven to be more accident-prone than more mature ages, you could still experience injuries in the workplace.


Discrimination isn’t just an ethics issue within a company or organization, limited only to hiring and employee treatment. Discrimination, especially within the food service industry, can also extend into the dining area and with paying customers. Despite your ethical and equitable practices for hiring your own staff, look to ensure your teams are treating the public with the same level of equitable care. Discrimination in seating, food preparation, and customer service poses serious risks to your business.


Don’t overlook the potential risks associated with harassment in your restaurant. From sexual harassment to workplace bullying, harassment continues to be a top priority for owners looking to improve their culture and practice zero tolerance for such behavior. From unruly customers to overbearing managers, be diligent about continued education to your staff about defining, identifying, and reporting instances of harassment immediately.

With these ethics risks in mind, it might be time for your restaurant to consider implementing an ethics hotline. With an anonymous reporting channel for all your employees, you can provide them with a safe way to report unsavory behavior or risks. And catching a problem early, or before it has a chance to manifest into something more serious, will improve your workplace culture and save you thousands. Contact Ethical Advocate to learn more about how ethics hotlines can help your restaurant business and get started!