Published On: Mon, Feb 27th, 2017

Sexual Harassment in the Service Industry

Hospitality industry workers are part of the backbone of the American economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 2.5 million people are employed as waiters and waitresses in restaurants, bars and hotels in the United States. There are many others who work in similar positions such as bartenders and hostesses. Disproportionately, the service industry employs women. As many as 70 percent of all servers are women. Many in the restaurant industry report facing sexual harassment at work.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in a Serious Problem  

According to a study from the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, 90 percent of women who work in a tipped position report that they have faced some form of sexual harassment while on the job. Harassment is a widespread problem in the service industry. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that the restaurant industry is the single biggest source of workplace sexual harassment claims in the United States.

Sexual harassment can take a wide array of forms including unwanted verbal remarks or unwelcome physical contact. It may come from a variety of sources. Women who work in the service industry report facing sexual harassment from their co-workers, managers and even customers.

Far too many women feel that they have little choice but to tolerate harassing comments and behavior as part of the job. Harassment is unacceptable, both ethically and legally. It is a form of employment discrimination and violates federal law and the laws of the state of Utah. Employers have a legal duty to protect their workers from on-the-job sexual harassment. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect while at work.

What to Do If You Are Sexually Harassed at Work

Victims of sexual harassment often hesitate to report the misconduct. A victim may feel shame, embarrassment or fear reprisal. Instead of taking action, many victims believe that they have no choice but to endure the mistreatment in silence. You do not have to put up with harassment. Sexual harassment victims can fight back.

Speak up: A victim of sexual harassment should state in clear terms to the harasser that their comments or conduct is unwelcome and unacceptable. If you tell someone to stop, whether a customer, co-worker or manager, then they need to listen and stop the unwelcome conduct.

Report: Sexual harassment should be formally reported to your supervisor. For legal reasons, it is critically important to ensure that you make a report through the official channels to your manager or your company’s human resources office. Reporting the harassment may help shield your co-workers from similar misconduct. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting harassment.

Record: Keep a daily journal detailing any misconduct that you have faced while on the job. Within this journal, you should describe the type of harassment, the name of the person who harassed you, when it began, how often it occurred, your response and describe the response (or lack of response) from your employer.

Seek help: You should know that you are not in this difficult situation alone. If you are facing sexual harassment on the job, you should seek guidance from a compassionate attorney.  If your company is not doing enough to protect your rights to a safe workplace, you should contact a sexual harassment attorney immediately. An attorney with experience handling restaurant industry sexual harassment claims can determine exactly what needs to be done to protect your physical safety, psychological well-being, and legal rights.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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