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Restaurant workers frequently victims of sexual harassment

Regardless of age, profession or sex; no employee should ever be subjected to acts of sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects workers from discriminatory and harassing behaviors at work. However, despite laws prohibiting unwanted sexual conduct, every year many U.S. employees report being victims of sexual harassment.

A recent report conducted by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United sheds light on how sexual harassment is rampant within the restaurant industry. For the report, ROC researchers interviewed nearly 700 restaurant workers from 39 different states. The study’s findings not only prove that restaurant workers are routinely being sexually harassed at work, but also highlight an apparent correlation between pay and sexual harassment.

Restaurant workers in Indiana earn a federal minimum wage of $2.13 per hour. As a result, Indiana waitresses and waiters must rely heavily upon tips. According to the ROC report, roughly 90 percent of women working in restaurants in states with a $2.13 minimum wage reported being subjected to acts of sexual harassment.

Restaurant workers making $2.13 per hour were also frequently told by a manager to “wear sexier clothing.” A representative with ROC explains that these workers “are forced to dress and act certain ways that make them vulnerable to customer, co-worker and manager harassment.” Women, who were interviewed for the report, reported suffering acts of sexual harassment at the hands of co-workers, managers and customers.

From sexually-explicit comments to acts of sexual assault, a wide range of acts and behaviors constitute workplace sexual harassment. Individuals who have been the victim of this type of unwanted harassment would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney who handles employment litigation matters.

Source: USA Today, “Group: Sexual harassment rife in restaurants,” Bruce Horovitz, Oct. 7, 2014