Restaurant workers file more sexual harassment claims than workers in any other industry

Want to Avoid Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? Don’t Work in a Restaurant

Most people don’t consider positions in the food service industry particularly desirable. The hourly wage is often low, forcing workers to rely on tips from patrons who are often unreasonably demanding and less than generous. Now, it turns out that servers, bartenders, cooks, runners, bussers, dishwashers, and other restaurant workers have something else to complain about: sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to Buzzfeed’s analysis of data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, restaurant workers report sexual harassment at a higher rate than workers in any other industry. These findings seem in line with the results from a 2014 report from Restaurant Opportunities Center United, which found that 90 percent of women and 70 percent of men in the food service industry have experienced some type of sexual harassment.

Types of Sexual Harassment

There are two main types of sexual harassment:

Quid Pro Quo: Think of this as the “casting couch” scenario of sexual harassment: sleep with me and you’ll get the part, the director promises the starlet. However, it’s important to remember that quid pro quo harassment doesn’t have to be as explicit as asking for sex in exchange for employment or a promotion. It can also take the form of inappropriate sexual comments, like a manager suggesting that employee might get promoted if she dressed sexier.

Hostile Work Environment: This type of sexual harassment can include a wide variety of offensive behaviors that make the working environment so hostile that it affects the victim’s ability to do their job. Some examples include:

  • Personal questions of a sexual nature
  • Sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts
  • Vulgarities and offensive language of a sexual nature
  • Lewd jokes
  • Displaying sexually explicit or offensive pictures, cartoons, or literature
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Inappropriate sexual gestures
  • Offensive comments about gender or sexual orientation

Remember, a single instance of an offensive behavior is not likely to be enough to create a hostile work environment and support a sexual harassment claim (unless the behavior is particularly severe, like inappropriate touching amounting to sexual assault). In most cases, there is a pattern of behavior that is not properly addressed by management which ends up creating a hostile work environment.

Need Help with a Sexual Harassment Claim?

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may want to consult an attorney for help and advice before you even begin the process of reporting the harassment to your employer. At The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker, we are here to help. Call us at 800-333-0000 for a free consultation.