Before we begin, just take a guess at how many female restaurant employees claim sexual harassment by their own management…
“Unfortunately, it’s just become the societal norm, and we have all accepted it and we all hate it.” —Woman bartender in Houston
In a moment we will tell you how many, but first, how would you define sexual harassment? If you have employees like the managers talked about in this article, you might have a very different definition than the law. This spells trouble for you and your restaurant.
Sexual harassment includes any of the following:
- Sexual jokes and innuendos
- Sexual advances and propositioning
- Inappropriate touching
While some see these things as harmless teasing, many of these actions are unfortunalty tolerated as just a part of being a waitress. So why would women put up with this? Do not confuse toleration with encouragement or enjoyment. Not even for one moment.
So, why would any woman put up with such harassment?
- If you need your job, then you put up with junk from your boss or coworkers.
- If you count on your tips to pay the bills, then you put up with junk from your customers.
One recent survey showed that most workers either ignore or put up with harassing behaviors because they fear they will be penalized through loss of income from tips, unfavorable shifts, public humiliation, or even job loss. This makes the restaurant industry as the single largest source of sexual harassment claims in the U.S. Disgusting, isn’t it?
But what do the numbers really show? Up to 66% of female workers at restaurants complain about sexual harassment from their own manager! What’s even scarier is that many believe that these numbers are too low! This recent report describes a poll where sexual harassment is merely seen as “kitchen talk,” and such a “normalized” part of the work environment and that many restaurant workers are reluctant to publicly acknowledge their experiences with sexual harassment.
ROC United and Forward Together surveyed 688 current and former restaurant workers across 39 states. Restaurant workers reporting high levels of harassing behaviors from:
- Restaurant management (66%)
- Co-workers (80%)
- Customers (78%)
Is this a once in a while issue for restaurant employees to deal with? Recent research finds 60% of women have experienced sexual harassment, and over half say they experience it on at least a weekly basis.
More data from this study:
- 66% of women workers and over 50% of men workers had experienced some form of sexual harassment from management.
- Almost 80% of women and 70% of men experienced some form of sexual harassment from co-workers
- Nearly 80% of women and 55% of men experienced some form of sexual harassment from customers.
- 66% of women experienced sexual harassment from management on at least a monthly basis and 52% on at least a weekly basis.
- 58% of men experienced sexual harassment from management on at least a monthly basis and 40% on at least a weekly basis
- 74% of women experienced sexual harassment from co-workers on at least a monthly basis and 64% on at least a weekly basis.
- 58% of women experienced sexual harassment from co-workers on at least a monthly basis and 52% on at least a weekly basis.
- 59% of women experienced sexual harassment from customers on at least a monthly basis, and 33% on a weekly basis.
- 50% of men experienced sexual harassment from customers on at least a monthly basis, and 255 ON A WEEKLY BASIS.
So, what about your own restaurant’s kitchen talk?
Think about this seriously. If you take the attitude that sexual harassment is ‘just part of the job’ in the restaurant industry, make sure you have good insurance that will prepare you for a lawsuit because it’s on its way. If you do nothing, then it is only a matter of time before you are hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Sure you have business insurance for your restaurant, but why go down that road only to have to pay out millions of dollars?
What will you do with this information? We hope you heed the warning before it is too late and create a positive working environment for ALL your employees.