Restaurant workers report more instances of sexual harassment than any other industry. A 2014 report released by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROCU) has claimed 80 percent of foodservice workers have experienced sexual harassment.
Why are restaurant workers being sexually harassed in large numbers? According to the ROCU report, restaurant workers often rely on tips to make ends meet, instead of normal wages found at other jobs.
Even in California, most restaurants pay workers low wages because more money can be made from tips. There is a lot of pressure for workers to look their best, which can cause sexual harassment from customers. However, restaurant employees can also face sexual harassment from coworkers.
How Prevalent is Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry?
Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) show that 37 percent of sexual harassment claims filed by women come from employees working in the restaurant industry. These numbers show sexual harassment in the restaurant industry has become widespread.
Recent lawsuits in southern California can give us a glimpse of what sexual harassment looks like for restaurant workers. Several women have filed lawsuits against P.F. Chang’s, a national chain of Chinese restaurants. A woman who filed one of the lawsuits claimed a male coworker forced her hands down his pants. Other women have reported attempts by male coworkers to grab and kiss.
California and federal laws protect workers against sexual harassment from supervisors and coworkers. Workers who have been sexually harassed may have legal options to hold their employers accountable.
Kesluk, Silverstein, Jacob & Morrison, P.C. is a Los Angeles labor law firm with experience helping workers who have been hurt by sexual harassment.