The Food and Beverage Sector (FABS) Worker Study: The effect of COVID-19 policies on violence, bullying, and harassment

In brief

  • The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many work-related inequities, with essential workers having to work at considerable risk in environments with high risk of COVID-19 exposure.
  • In BC, the food and beverage sector remained open throughout most of the pandemic, with reduced hours, masking, and restricted capacity. In August 2021, by order of the public health officer, patrons of licensed restaurants, pubs, and other establishments were required to show proof of vaccination for entry. Businesses were required to check for vaccination status and deny services to those not meeting this requirement.
  • Women, LGBTQ+, racialized persons, and youth are overrepresented in the food and beverage service sector and in lower paid positions and are at high risk of harassment and violence at work. Such workers are often precariously employed and are at a power disadvantage with employers and customers.
  • Growing evidence suggests that COVID-19 working conditions, including the requirement to enforce COVID-19 workplace safety protocols, puts these workers at a greater risk for harassment and violence as well as consequent negative physical and mental health outcomes.

Next steps

  • This project is a mixed methods study conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity and the Department of History and Sociology at UBC Okanagan, at two research sites in BC: Metro Vancouver and the Central Okanagan region. There are three research objectives:
    1. Explore the gendered and racialized lived experiences of bullying, harassment, and violence of food and beverage sector workers while working under COVID-19 restrictions.
    2. Assess and characterize the prevalence and social-structural correlates of bullying, harassment, and violence of food and beverage workers in the Metro Vancouver and Central Okanagan regions.
    3. Work with community-based organizations, employer and worker associations, and WorkSafeBC, to develop and implement a knowledge translation strategy that will provide recommendations and guidelines to prevent and mitigate harassment and violence in the workplace due to public health measures.
Contact: Stephanie Skourtes

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

School of Population and Public Health
2206 East Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
Tel: 604-822-2772
Partnership for Work, Health and Safety
2206 East Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada
Tel: 604-822-8544

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