Tam a waitress at the Roman Bistro restaurant in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania. I have held this position since April 2015. I must abide by the rules outlined in the employee handbook in order to secure my position as a server. Other rules that I am expected to follow come directly from my bosses, Mike ar Rose Roman, and my managers, Elizabeth and Joe. The rules that I am obligated to follow are extensive but are designed to keep the restaurant running smoothly, customers satisfied, and employees safe.
The rules that I am expected to follow as an employee at the Roman Bistro can be categorized into two separate classifications: rules regarding employee conduct, and rules regarding procedure. Although similar to some regard, these two categories of rules differ in both foundation and application. Rules regarding employee conduct emphasize the notions of professionalism, reliability, respectfulness, trustworthiness, etc. Some of these rules are written, in which they are outlined in the employee handbook. Other rules regarding employee conduct are verbal and can be altered based on the authority figure interpreting and enforcing the rules.
In another category are the rules regarding employee conduct which are innate. These rules are neither written down nor verbally enforced; unless out of correction. The rules of conduct outlined in the employee handbook include rules outlining the dress-code. They are published and accessible to employees of the Roman Bistro at all times. At the Roman Bistro, there isn’t a strict code of dress that the employees are required to abide by. Although there is some freedom in the dress code, employees are expected to retain a professional and respectful appearance.
The employee is allowed to wear a variety of tops, bottoms, and shoes, as long as these articles of clothing remain appropriate for the work environment. The rules regarding employee conduct that are verbal often come from the owners, Mike and Rose Roman, or the managers, Elizabeth and Joe. These rules regarding employee conduct are subject to change based on who is giving the verbal command. For example, Mike Roman, the owner, has a very low tolerance for a lack of employee professionalism. Although it is not stated in the employee handbook, Mike has articulated verbal rules ing employee interaction with guests.
This includes the requirement of employees to say a welcoming and parting phrase to all guests that walk in and out of the doors of the Roman Bistro. According to Mike, failing to greet and thank guests as they leave breaks a rule of employee conduct because it demonstrates a lack of employee professionalism. If I were to fail in greeting a guest, I would be punished by Mike Roman. If I were to fail in greeting a guest in front of one of my more laidback managers, I would most likely go unpunished. This demonstrates how the verbal rules of conduct are subject to change.
Therefore, these rules only apply to me in certain contexts. Along with the rules regarding employee conduct that are both written and verbal, there exists a category of innate rules of employee conduct. Unlike the other employee conduct rules, the failure to adhere to these rules doesn’t necessarily result in “punishment” but is potentially disrespectful to fellow co-workers, managers, etc. For example, these “rules” may include being pleasant with fellow co-workers, leaving personal issues at home, helping other coworkers be successful at their jobs, and giving timely notice if I need a co-worker to cover my shift.
Rules regarding procedure emphasize the employee’s obligation to follow the specific rules of the restaurant. These rules are most often found written in the employee handbook and they vary in importance. Although some of these rules are followed and enforced more strictly than others, the contractual nature of these rules between the employer and employees justifies the employer firing the employee for noncompliance with any and all of these rules. These rules regarding procedure are intended to keep employees in line with restaurant policies.
Other rules regarding procedure are verbally outlined during “employee lineup”, or are posted as written “to-do” lists in the restaurant. These rules regarding procedure are intended to emphasize the “correct way” of serving at the Roman Bistro and ensure that employees can be successful at their job. These rules regarding procedure have the best interest of the employee in mind. If there are no rules on how to correctly serve, and if there is no one in charge to enforce these rules, both the server and restaurant suffer.
At the Roman Bistro, rules regarding procedure include those in relation with employee compensation, employee dress code, employee interaction with other coworkers (which includes inappropriate relationships, harassment, inappropriate verbal/physical conduct,) employee vacations, smoking policies, the employee termination process, etc. The other rules regarding procedure that are either verbally enforced or written are wide-ranging. These rules include outlines of server duties, closer duties, and server side work.
These outlines are in written form and describe the exact duties each particular server is responsible for completing during their shift. If these duties are not accomplished, punishment is inevitable. The verbal rules that are emphasized during “employee lineup” include being responsible for selling specials, knowing the wine, draft, and cocktail lists, being responsible for knowing which food items are in and out of stock, being responsible for conducting oneself in a respectable manner, and remembering that the “customer is always right” (even when they clearly aren’t).
All of the rules mentioned previously are known to me as an employee at the Roman Bistro. I know that these rules apply to me because they are published in the employee handbook, they are written in the restaurant, they are verbally enforced by my managers, or they are inherent to me because I am a professional and respectable human being. Although these rules apply to me, and I know that I am responsible for adhering to them, I am also aware that certain rules are subject to change based on the desires of those in charge of me. These rules are mostly in regard to employee conduct.
For example, my managers do not care if the employees swear, as long as the employee remains respectful and refrains from vulgar language in front of customers. On the other hand, the owners of the restaurant have less tolerance for that kind of language. Therefore, there are rules in place in some contexts but not in others in regards to the same behavior. Since these rules are subject to change, and therefore are not truly clear, I find these rules to be unfair. I do not believe a rule holds legitimacy unless it is reasonably and consistently enforced.
Although I understand why the owners expect more conservative conduct from their employees, it is not reasonable to punish an employee only part of the time for the same action. In order to be more reasonable, personal biases and opinions on employee conduct should not affect the upholding of rules. Because the unwritten rules are sometimes unclear, and there are many exceptions to the rules in different contexts, I choose to follow a hierarchy of command in order to satisfy as many of the rules (both written and unwritten, implied and understood) as possible.
I adhere to the rules of Mike and Rose Roman. As owners, they are higher in the hierarchy of command than the managers and experienced servers. I do not necessarily follow all of their rules because I think they are reasonable or fair, but I follow them in order to continue working as a waitress at the Roman Bistro. I know that as an employee, I have protected rights. The majority of these rights are reflected in the rules of the restaurant, but all of these rights are upheld on a larger legal scale.
These rights include, but are not limited to, the right to a safe and comfortable workplace, rights regarding workplace discrimination, rules regarding my rights to health and safety, and rights regarding compensation. For example, I have the right to a safe workplace in which I feel comfortable to work. In the instance of sexual harassment, my rights would be violated and both workplace and legal rules.
Work place rules and consequences regarding sexual harassment are outlined in the employee handbook with an attached ‘no tolerance policy. On a larger scale, rules regarding sexual harassment and assault in the work place are upheld by organizations such as the Fair Employment and Housing Commission which are published online and in legislation. Along with rules regarding sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission upholds my right to not be discriminated against based on gender.
Another example that outlines my right to a safe workplace are the rules outlined by OSHA. These rules legally uphold my rights of securing my health and safety in the workplace. There are both written and digital versions of these rules. Another right that I have as an employee at the Roman Bistro is to receive compensation for my work. I do not work for free, and there is contractual agreement between me and my employer that guarantees my ability to collect weekly pay.