Why is sexual harassment an ongoing problem in the restaurant industry?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2023 | Employment Law |

The level of sexual harassment that food workers face is often so high that almost every single person working in the food service industry has experienced some form of sexual harassment at some point.

Studies show that sexual harassment exists in all fields, but persists in this one to a notably bad degree. Why is this such a major problem in the restaurant industry?

Smiling services lead to harassment

NPR discusses the situations in restaurants that contribute to sexual harassment. First: restaurant workers usually rely on tips. About two-thirds of tipped restaurant employees are women. Due to fears of the impact on income, many of these workers will allow harassing behavior to slide without complaint.

Unfortunately, employers also usually encourage workers to smile and keep up a cheerful and happy appearance regardless of what situation they face. Harassment from higher-ups can also leave workers fearing a reduction of hours or an unfavorable reassignment.

History of abuse in restaurants

Historically, restaurant workers have faced challenges, too. Many restaurants have males in key roles of power. A history of tolerance for harassing behaviors exists strongly in many of these environments, too.

Unfortunately, NPR reports that 70 percent of female restaurant workers experience sexual harassment at some point during their job. Over half of these workers also report experiencing sexual harassment as often as once per week.

Needless to say, this is an enormous problem that affects the entire industry. For the sake of the workers within it, it is important for any and all cases of sexual harassment to get taken seriously.