Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

Sexual harassment is particularly common in the restaurant industry. In the service-oriented industry, employees (i.e. waitresses, bartenders, hosts, dishwashers, bussers, etc.) hear the frequently repeated motto that the customer is always right. This leaves tip-waged workers subject to enduring a stunning amount of sexual harassment on the job.

According to the Restaurant Opportunities Center report published in 2014, a shocking 90% of women working in the restaurant industry report being subjected to unwanted sexual advances while on the job. More than half of the women report that the incidents occur on a weekly basis. The fact that the restaurant industry accounts for 10% of the nation’s workforce and that women employed in the restaurant industry outnumber the men two to one mean that this problem is appalling in its magnitude.

Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry: Did You Know?

  1. Almost 40% of all sexual harassment claims that are filed originate from misconduct in the restaurant industry.
  2. From 2004 to 2014, restaurants in 15 states paid $10 million in damages/settlements for sexual harassment cases.

An expert in the field of labor and sexual harassment, Dianne Avery, believes tipped wages put the burden on customers rather than employers to pay servers’ wages, and as such, a proprietary relationship is created between the servers and their paying customers (frequently men). Since servers are more likely to be women, the proprietary relationship can quickly devolve into sexual harassment. In fact, the problem doesn’t stop with the customers.

While servers in the restaurant industry are twice as likely to be female, management and other non-tipped staff such as kitchen workers are more likely to be male. Sadly, this situation supports the odd dynamic and servers in the restaurant industry are also more likely to experience sexual harassment from their co-workers and superiors. In the restaurant industry, with most of the workers receiving tips being female, a power dynamic has been created that leaves plenty of room for sexual harassment – in many restaurant environments, questionable behavior and conduct is simply accepted, and sometimes supported.

If you are struggling with sexual harassment in the restaurant industry or if you need to discuss how to file a Georgia sexual harassment lawsuit, please get in touch with one of the experienced attorneys at Barrett & Farahany.
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