The restaurant industry has more cases of sexual harassment than any other industry. There are many reasons for this. Here are some of them:
- A higher percentage of female workers: While males get harassed too, women suffer more than men. 71% of servers in restaurants are female.
- Age: Restaurant work is one of the few jobs you can get when you are young. Younger women, who are often just girls, may not have the confidence to speak up for themselves when sexually harassed by an older client. Many male clients may also find it acceptable to treat them in ways they would not do to an older woman.
- Lack of protection: The majority of restaurant bosses are male. Many do not understand the problem their female servers face. While some are proactive in defending their staff from sexual harassment, others are not receptive to complaints. Older female workers have grown up dealing with sexual harassment from customers. They often advise younger workers that it is part of the job.
- Working for tips: Sadly, what you look like and how you dress can affect how much you get tipped. Dressing “sexily” or flirting can get you more tips. Failing to do so, or failing to allow a customer to grab or put their arm around you can leave you without any tips. When you need the money, it can be tempting to put up with it.
- Normalization of sexual harassment of waitresses: The image of the waitress as a sexual object has a long history. Think Hooters. When woman are conceived as sexual objects, actions that are actually sexual harassment are seen as acceptable.
Sexual harassment is not normal, and it is not acceptable. Your employer has a duty to protect you from sexual harassment in the workplace. If they don’t, there are legal options available.