Waitresses, restaurant workers suffer high rates of sex harassment

Posted in Sexual Harassment,Sexual Harassment by Industry on September 17, 2014

There are definite advantages to working in the restaurant industry. If you are in high school or college, a restaurant waiter or waitressing job can be a good way to transition into the workforce. Depending on the restaurant and its clientele, your hourly wages might be significantly increased by generous tips.

But working the restaurant industry also comes with some serious risks, especially for women. Women who work in restaurants (particularly those who are servers) suffer sexual harassment at rates five times higher than women in the general workforce. According the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, approximately 37 percent of all sexual harassment complaints (of both genders) generate within the restaurant industry.

There are a number of reasons why waitresses and other female restaurant workers suffer higher rates of sexual harassment. The first is that these relatively low-skill and low-wage jobs have fairly high rates of turnover. Victims of sexual harassment might be more inclined to quit and find a similar job elsewhere than to file a complaint and pursue a lawsuit. Those who perpetrate sexual harassment are well aware of this, which is why they feel emboldened to harass coworkers or employees in the first place.

Another problem has to do with the management structure in many restaurants. There is generally no human resources department, which means that waitresses and other employees report directly to the restaurant owner or manager. This isn’t easy to do if the owner/manager is also the harasser or has a close relationship with the harasser.

At Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, we understand the barriers that make it difficult for restaurant workers to fight against sexual harassment. But we also understand how important it is to stand up for your rights. To that end, our free initial consultations can help you determine the strength of your case and whether or not you’d like to file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the EEOC.

If you want to know more about how we can help you fight back against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry, please visit the waitress and server sexual harassment page on our website.