Turnover is High, But Sexual Harassment Constant in Restaurant Industry

More than one-third of the sexual harassment lawsuits reported by the federal government this year involved the food industry, according to an MSNBC article published on November 1, 2011. The sexual harassment allegations against presidential candidate Herman Cain during his time with the National Restaurant Association led to the MSNBC investigation that found that 26 of the 75 sexual harassment lawsuits this year involved the restaurant industry.

MCNBC quoted a 2002 study by hospitality professors from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, “Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry,” which said, “The restaurant industry is especially susceptible to incidents of sexual harassing behaviors due to certain social characteristics. The most obvious is that of restaurants attracting or recruiting employees with ‘outgoing personalities.’”

MSNBC used the Fox television show “Hell’s Kitchen” as an example of the hostile working environments in the restaurant industry, but the sexually charged atmosphere does not excuse that form or quid pro quo forms of sexual harassment. While the line of work “may be more susceptible to overt sexual behavior,” as MSNBC put it, employees should still know that what constitutes sexual harassment outside dining establishments constitutes sexual harassment inside them as well. Christine Nazer, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, told MSNBC, “The law is the law, and no employee, regardless of their gender, should have to endure sexual harassment at work.”

Law Offices of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob – Los Angeles employment attorney

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