Sexual harassment continues to be a growing concern across America. Everyday, unsuspecting workers are subjected to inappropriate behavior that leaves them feeling threatened and concerned about reporting such behavior. These fears aren’t unfounded. After all, time and again workers are retaliated against for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace. This means that they are passed over for promotions, demoted, given less desirable work assignments or hours, and even terminated from their position.
Sexual harassment in the restaurant industry
Some industries fare worse when it comes to sexual harassment. The restaurant industry, in particular, sees an enormous amount of sexual harassment. In fact, one study from Harvard found that 90% of women who work in the restaurant industry have been subjected to sexual harassment. That same study found that 70% of men reported being subjected to sexual harassment.
These figures seem to have only gotten worse over the last year, with 41% of restaurant workers indicating that they have seen a noticeable change in the frequency at which they are subjected to unwanted sexual comments. Another 25% of restaurant workers say that they have seen a significant increase in sexual harassment.
There may be a number of reasons why restaurant workers are subjected to sexual harassment at a higher frequency. To start, many workers in this industry are young and under paid, which creates a power imbalance between them and their superiors. Also, the restaurant industry typically has a culture that enforces a mindset where the customer is always right. Therefore, workers who complain about sexual harassment usually don’t see much corrective action from their employers because those employers don’t want to upset customers. Similarly, workers themselves often don’t want to upset harassing customers since a lot of worker pay is based on tips.
What to do when you’re subjected to sexual harassment
If you work in the restaurant industry and have been subjected to sexual harassment, then you need to carefully consider what you can do to stop it. First, be sure to document everything. Take notes regarding every incident of sexual harassment, detailing when and where the harassment occurred, and what, exactly, constituted the harassment. Also be sure to talk to people who witnessed the harassment and obtain their contact information.
You should also report sexual harassment to your employer. Hopefully this will end the harassing behavior. If it doesn’t, or if you see a negative employment action taken against you after reporting the harassment, then you should consider whether you’re justified in taking legal action against your employer. It’s worth noting here that even if your employer responds appropriately and stops the harassment to which you’ve been subjected, you might still be able to pursue legal action against the individual who harassed you.
If you decide to take legal action, then you need to be prepared to anticipate your employer’s defenses. It may try to claim that a negative employment action was taken based on your poor performance, or they may try to give some other justification. You need to know how to anticipate these arguments so that you can build the strongest legal claim possible under the circumstances. This isn’t always an easy feat, and we know that it can be challenging to go up against your employer, but harassing behavior, hostile work environments, and retaliation are wholly unacceptable.
By taking aggressive legal action, you can not only give yourself a voice and seek the compensation that you deserve, but you can also give a voice to those harassed restaurant workers who have been abused and let down by their employers. The question, then, is are you ready to be brave and work with an attorney who is prepared to fight for you and your rights.